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Weekly Update - 20 Apr 2016

Lead Story
"Behind the Brands": Oxfam finds top 10 food & beverage companies make significant commitments to improve social & environmental standards
  • report says firms need to ensure suppliers change practices in line with standards & re-write business models in supply chains to ensure benefits reach farmers
  • 9 out of 10 companies have improved ratings by at least 10% since 2013; Unilever, Nestlé, Coca-Cola take top 3 spots
  • we invited companies to respond to their ratings; we will indicate responses next week

(Photo credit: Oxfam)
From us
Asia & Pacific
Europe & Central Asia
Middle East & No. Africa
From Business & Human Rights Resource Centre
ICT companies respond to “KnowTheChain” questions on steps they are taking to address forced labour in their supply chains
  • responses so far from Cisco, Ericsson, Hon Hai (Foxconn), HP, Intel, Qualcomm, Samsung, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing
Commentary: "The construction industry must step up on human rights"

Mariam Bhacker, in Guardian (UK)

Event: "Companies & Climate Change: Legal Liability & Human Rights Challenges After Paris/COP21" (5 May, Washington DC)

Event: "Strategic Litigation on Modern Slavery in Global Value Chains" (17 May, London - please RSVP)

convened by UN Working Group on business & human rights

Center for Intl. Environmental Law; Inside Climate News, New York Times, Los Angeles Times

  • commentaries by Amnesty Intl., Human Rights Watch, Institute for Human Rights and Business, Intl. Trade Union Confederation, Terre des Hommes & others
Zimbabwe: Green Fuel’s impunity for abuses shows absence of accountability measures for local companies, firms based in emerging economies, says expert

Michael Hobbes, in Foreign Policy

  • parliamentary portfolio committee reports found the company destroyed farmers’ crops, displaced people without compensation, was complicit in police violence
  • author attempted to seek a response from the company; company has not yet responded
News on Natl. Action Plans on business & human rights in Kenya & So. Africa Uganda: Road construction agency to establish social & environmental grievance committees after World Bank cancels funding due to contractors' sexual misconduct

New Vision (Uganda)

Colombian Govt. facing 16.5 USD billion arbitration filed by gold companies under US-Colombia free trade agreement over mining ban in natl. park

Censat - Friends of the Earth Intl.; Law 360

  • indigenous peoples concerned about "irregular proceedings" by companies in attempts to start mining operations
  • companies suing govt. include Tobie Mining & Energy, Cosigo Resources
Brazil: Vila Autódromo residents reach agreement with city to upgrade housing plan for community affected by private firms' construction of Olympic Park


Mexican communities affected by toxic spill from BuenaVista mine seek information from Southern Copper in US court

Comités Cuenca Río Sonora, PODER & EarthRights Intl.

USA: Judge allows families of victims of Sandy Hook school massacre to sue gun industry

Huffington Post (USA)

Asia & Pacific
Indonesia temporarily bans new palm oil & mining operations following criticisms of govt.'s environmental stewardship

Wall Street Journal

China: Dismissed transgender employee sues Ciming Health Checkup Centre over alleged discrimination

Guardian (UK)

Thailand: Environmental groups challenge junta order that eases regulations on major projects, file case in court citing human rights, impacts on environment, health & livelihoods

Prachatai (Thailand)

Philippines: Seung Yeun Technology Industries reinstates workers allegedly dismissed for union activities

Partido Manggagawa; Interaksyon (Philippines)

  • we sought responses from Analog Devices, ON Semiconductor, Texas Instruments (buyers from Seung Yeung); the companies have not responded
Europe & Central Asia
Switzerland: Over 140,000 sign petition for govt. to require human rights & environmental due diligence by Swiss companies

Swiss Responsible Business Initiative

Bulgaria: 1 worker killed in accident at Borieva mine, owned by Gorubso

Novinite (Bulgaria)

Middle East & North Africa
Egypt: "Dredging in the Dark" report calls for human rights due diligence from firms that were involved in Suez Canal project

SOMO, Both Ends

  • we invited the companies to respond: Atradius, Boskalis and Van Oord responses provided, and rejoinder by SOMO / Both Ends
  • we will indicate in a future Update if National Marine Dredging and Jan de Nul respond
Turkey: Concerns over continued labour exploitation as only 0.1% of Syrian refugees in line for work permits

Guardian (UK)

Jordan: Locals protest proposed investment on previous cement factory site due to concerns about environmental impacts & lack of adequate consultation

Jordan Times

Interserve & Balfour Beatty respond to allegations of migrant worker labour abuses in Qatar

Construction News; Guardian (UK)

Company responses Non-responses
Forthcoming events:
  • creating access to effective remedies for victims of business-related human rights abuses (Johannesburg, 20 Apr)
  • tackling inequality in workplace recruitment: policy reform and best practice (London, 21 Apr)
  • "How Human Rights issues can impact your business" (Zurich, 21 Apr)
  • webinar: integrating human rights into mergers & acquisitions (21 Apr)
  • workshop on business and human rights (Leiden, 22 Apr)
  • how companies can work against corruption (Geneva, 22 Apr)
  • tools to improve working conditions in global supply chains (London, 26 Apr)
  • launch of "Leadership Group for Responsible Recruitment" (London, 4 May)
Details of these and other events further in the future can be found here.  Please send relevant event information to Alex Janczenia:  
Vacancies at Business & Human Rights Resource Centre
  • Project Manager, Protection of Civic Space & Human Rights Defenders (due 3 May)
  • China Researcher & Representative, based in Beijing, China (due 16 May)
  • Communications Internship (due 2 May)
  • IT & Digital Security Volunteer (rolling application)
Current vacancies: Further details and other recently posted jobs available here.  Please send job announcements to Alex Janczenia:  
We take no position on views by commentators, organizations & companies in the materials in this email:
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