Business and Human Rights
Around the world the human rights of individuals and communities are threatened by the operations of multinational companies. Companies must be held to account for abuses they commit, and people whose rights have been abused by companies must have access to justice and effective remedy.
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Multinational companies enjoy unprecedented power and influence around the world. There are concerns over the ways in which many of these companies benefit from economic globalization while all too often evading accountability when their operations result in environmental damage or human rights abuses. Canada, in particular, has been called upon by international human rights bodies to more effectively regulate Canadian companies' overseas operations and sanction those who abuse human rights.
At the heart of Amnesty International’s concerns are the individuals and communities whose human rights are at risk.
Amnesty is calling for:
• Prevention: Companies should be required by law to take steps to identify, prevent and address human rights abuses (known as human rights due diligence);
• Accountability: Companies must be held to account for abuses they commit;
• Remedy: People whose rights have been abused by companies must have access to justice and effective remedy;
• Protection of rights beyond borders: Companies operate across borders, so the law must also operate across borders to protect people’s rights.
Priority work in 2019
Open for Justice
Human rights abuses at Canadian-owned mining, oil and gas sites around the world are widespread and well documented. Victims of such abuse have nowhere to turn to seek justice. To fix this problem, Amnesty International urges Canada to be “Open for Justice”. Find out more about Open for Justice>>
The tailings pond breach at the Mount Polley copper mine in BC was the largest environmental mining disaster in Canadian history. Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities who were harmed say the company and the government of BC have not taken their responsibilities to communities and the environment seriously. Find out more about Mount Polley>>
Human Rights and Supply Chains
Amnesty’s research reveals shocking abuses behind popular electronics, food and cosmetics products. Even if companies are not directly involved in human rights abuses, they should ensure that human rights are respected throughout their supply chains.
- Cobalt: Is your phone or laptop powered by child labour?
- Palm Oil: Profiting from Child and Forced Labour
Access to Justice
Victims of human rights abuse have a right to remedy. Yet when harms involve powerful corporations, and especially when the companies are headquartered in another country, victims often face enormous challenges accessing remedy.
- Access to Justice - Holding Canadian Extractives Companies Accountable for Human Rights
- Toxic Waste Dumping in the Ivory Coast
- Injustice Incorporated: Corporate Abuses and the Human Right to Remedy
- Justice for the people of Bhopal, India
Human Rights Defenders
People in Guatemala and Honduras working to protect the environment and their territories from unwanted mining or hydro-electricity projects face deadly attacks and threats aimed at scaring them into submission. Amnesty International’s research shows that Canadian companies and investments play a role in these abuses. Defenders must be protected! Find out more about our human rights defenders campaign>>
Business and Human Rights ISSUES
Land and Environment
People who defend the environment from risky resource development projects are some of the most threatened human rights defenders in the world. Amnesty stands with courageous land defenders believing their work is necessary and important.
Corporate giants such as Nestlé, Colgate and Kellogg’s are selling food and cosmetics containing palm oil that is tainted by shocking human rights abuses. These companies reassure their customers that they are using “sustainable” palm oil, yet Amnesty’s research reveals that the palm oil is anything but. Find out more about our palm oil campaign>>
Trade and Investment
Trade rules can trump human rights and leave communities vulnerable to human rights abuses, particularly in states with poor human rights records.
Contact Amnesty's Corporate Action Network (for more information and/or to volunteer).
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