The Department of International and European Law at Hincker Associates, represented by Elise GROULX, Of Counsel, a lawyer at the Quebec Bar, Canada, will speak at the symposium "International Corporate Responsibility in Areas of 21 March 2013, organised by the NBC and the ABA at the Ministerial Conference Centre of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs,…
Businesses and Human Rights
Large companies often tout their commitments in terms of “social responsibility” (CSR). But when their activities violate human rights through their subsidiaries or partner companies, their real responsibility is rarely recognized and victims struggle to obtain redress (source: AI French Section).
Oil pollution, toxic waste spills, deadly gas leak … The activities of multinationals or their subcontractors can have dramatic consequences on the environment and human rights. When they are not deadly, these disasters can destroy the lives of thousands of people, contaminated by fumes or forced to flee their homes.
In many cases, these tragedies could have been avoided. From the Bhopal disaster in India in 1984, to the toxic waste scandal in Côte d’Ivoire in 2006 or the collapse of Rana Plaza in Bangladesh in 2013, measures could have been taken to prevent these tragedies.
The exploitation of natural resources is too regular at the expense of people and the environment. Entire families can be brutally evicted from the land where they have always lived without being able to assert their rights. They are almost never consulted on projects that disrupt their lives. They are even more rarely compensated. When they try to obtain justice, they run into the inefficiency of judicial systems and the lack of information, when it is not corruption that can exist between states and companies.
In some areas of conflict or tension, the activity of multinationals can fuel deadly trafficking. This is the case in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Colombia in Myanmar, where the mineral trade often maintains the illegal financing of armed groups. Gold, tin and tungsten are used to make our phones or electronic devices. Cobalt is often extracted by children. In this way, we must stop the trade in these “blood minerals”.
There are, however, more and more applicable standards and standards in International Public and Private Law (United Nations Corporate and Human Rights Guidelines, Guidelines for Multinational OECD, International Finance Corporation’s Environmental and Social Sustainability Performance Standards, Ecuador principles, etc.), and national law (national legislation imposing legal obligations – French law of 27 March 2017 on the duty of vigilance of the parent companies), to be argued for the defense of victims of corporate abuse, as for the advice to the companies themselves.
The Firm’s expertise
Indeed, the THUAN Dit DIEUDONNÉ office and the BI teams for Business Integrity (http://www.biforbusinessintegrity.com/fr/leadership.php) work with their clients to design solutions “tailor-made” according to risk profiles specific to their projects. They have a range of tools to adapt their services and the solutions offered according to the specificity of each project, impacting on people, including:
- Risk Diagnostics: Rapid assessments based on the social and environmental footprints typical of major economic development projects, including expected human rights impacts and the risk of conflict with key players and communities
- Social license to operate: plans and programs to open up communication with communities, indigenous peoples, public agencies and political leaders who have real interests in a project. Obtaining informed consent in advance can greatly reduce social and legal risks.
Mr. THUAN Dit DIEUDONNÉ was also heard on 23 October 2013 by the members of the ICC Commission in Paris (International Chamber of Commerce) on corporate responsibility and the fight against corruption of the International Chamber of Commerce, Paris on the theme “Enterprise and Human Rights – the Role of Trade in Areas of Low Governance.”
He stressed the United Nations guidelines on trade and human rights and its three missions: the duty of the state to guarantee human rights, the responsibility of companies to protect human rights, and the right to effective remedies. – Download the PDF
He is regularly invited to discuss the subject at conferences, academics and scientists, most recently on 8 September 2017 in Strasbourg, at the European Court of Human Rights, on the theme “Human Rights at Work and Business organised by the University of Strasbourg.
The firm provides its expertise and resources in this complex area.