Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Canadian Export Financing To Be Tied To Respect For Human Rights

Socially responsible investment is an area of interest to me so the following article in the magazine Embassy attracted my attention: EDC Gives Nod to Human Rights Considerations - But the jury is still out on whether the Crown corporation has gone far enough:

"With an eye on a recent report tabled by the UN's special representative on corporate social responsibility, Export Development Canada has adopted a policy of considering potential human rights impacts before approving transactions in developing countries."
The export credit agency is a wholly-owned agency of the federal government.

Groups like Amnesty International welcome the initiative but are not sure it goes far enough:

"Fiona Koza, campaigner for business and human rights at Amnesty International Canada, said the human rights organization takes heart in EDC's promise to continue strengthening its human rights policies, but criticized the policy statement as vague and 'a pretty tiny first step'. (...) 'But the statement falls far short of what is required. I think it's largely restating their measures that are already in place, which are entirely voluntary and not very transparent'."

"Ms. Koza said what's needed are changes to the Export Development Act that would mandate human rights assessments and policies. As things stand now, she said, human rights considerations are entirely voluntary."

"In addition, Amnesty would like to see EDC disclose its human rights assessments, and build in third-party monitoring and procedures that must be followed when projects don't comply with human rights."
Other Library Boy posts on business and human rights include:
  • Weekly Updates Available from Business and Human Rights Database (March 22, 2005): "Corporate profiles include news stories, items about investigations, lawsuits and enforcement actions, as well as official responses (...) The Centre has also just introduced a new feature, Weekly Updates, which are e-mail alerts with an interesting twist: companies are invited to respond to reports that criticise them, and the responses are included. This is to help keep the updates balanced and encourage companies to publicly address important labour and human rights concerns being raised by civil society organizations such as labour unions, development associations, Third World NGOs, and human rights organizations."
  • Amnesty International UK and USA's Human Rights, Trade and Investment Matters (June 28, 2006): "I picked up a reference to this document at the Business and Human Rights Resource Centre. The UK and USA branches of the international human rights NGO Amnesty International released a collection of articles last month that explore the connections between trade, investment and human rights, and consider the potential for integrating human rights into trade and investment agreements."
  • List of Documents Prepared by the Special Representative to the UN Secretary General on Business and Human Rights (January 16, 2008): "A few years ago, the Secretary-General of the United Nations appointed a special representative on the issue of human rights and transnational corporations. That person's job is to identify standards of corporate responsibility; develop materials for human rights impact assessments of the activities of corporations abroad; elaborate on the role of States in effectively regulating corporations when it comes to human rights; and compile a compendium of best practices of States and corporations."
  • Human Rights Watch Report on Business and Human Rights (February 22, 2008): "There are no widely agreed overarching standards for all businesses, but instead many different standards that address select human rights, select companies or industries, or select countries or situations. The result is a messy and inconsistent patchwork of voluntary pledges that have limited application, generally do not fully align with international human rights norms, and in any case are frequently disregarded in practice (...)"
  • 'Corporate Culture' as a Basis for the Criminal Liability of Corporations (March 6, 2008): "The Australian law firm of Allens Arthur Robinson has recently prepared a study for the United Nations Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Human Rights and Business that examines the way different jurisdictions have contemplated the basis for corporate criminal liability (...) Among the jurisdictions compared are: Australia, UK, Canada, United States, Switzerland, Finland, Japan, Austria, Belgium, South Africa, and many more."
  • International Investment Agreements and Human Rights (March 20, 2008): "The International Institute for Sustainable Development, a Canadian-based NGO, recently prepared a study for the UN entitled 'International Investment Agreements, Business and Human Rights: Key Issues and Opportunities' (...) 'In the context of the state duty to protect and promote human rights, the most critical issue that arises are the duties to legislate in order to implement international human rights obligations into domestic law and to enforce such legislation. In investment law terms, this relates to what has been described in some texts as the right of host states to regulate. At the same time, however, IIAs limit the right of states to regulate, and these limits may extend to the state duty to protect and promote human rights'."
  • Proposed UN Framework for Corporate Responsibility and Human Rights (June 4, 2008): "The Business and Human Rights Resource Centre, a portal that provides coverage of corporate accountability issues, has brought together in one location: the latest report to the United Nations Human Rights Council by John Ruggie, Special Representative of the Secretary-General of the UN for Business and Human Rights, plus companion reports and addenda on the issue of corporate and investor responsibility in relation to human rights violations; government, NGO and legal expert responses to the report"

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 1:03 pm

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