Make Way for Justice #3: Universal Jurisdiction Annual Review 2017

Report by ECCHR, FIBGAR, FIDH, REDRESS and TRIAL, March 2017

Universal jurisdiction has gathered unprecedented momentum in 2016. In this annual report, ECCHR and its partners FIBGAR, FIDH, REDRESS and TRIAL International look back on its application through 47 recent cases.
Five years of conflict, hundreds of thousands of dead. In Syria, large-scale war crimes are committed in all impunity. Effective prosecution has been repeatedly impeded at the international level, yet justice has found a way forward: universal jurisdiction. Thanks to this principle, States can prosecute criminals regardless of their nationality or where the crime was committed. The interest of such procedures for lawless regions is obvious.
2016 alone, five States have brought charges for alleged crimes in Syria. Investigations are ongoing in three others. For victims, these proceedings may be their only chance to obtain justice. Universal jurisdiction has proved a significant tool against impunity in Syria, but it also applies to many more situations: Rwanda, Nepal, Guatemala and Iraq, to name but a few.
47 milestone cases in 2016
To illustrate this breadth, ECCHR, FIBGAR, FIDH, REDRESS and TRIAL Internationa release their annual report on universal jurisdiction, Make way for Justice #3. In 2016 alone, 13 States have made use of this principle in 47 cases – an unprecedented success. Make was for Justice #3 also illustrates the need for States to establish specialized units and equip them with sufficient means.

Make Way for Justice #3

MakeWayForJustice#3.pdf (5.7 MiB)

Liability of Social Auditors in the Textile Industry

ECCHR Policy Paper, December 2016

ECCHR (ed.) in cooperation with the Friedrich Ebert-Stiftung

Due to the outsourcing of production in the textile industry since the 1990s and the increased emphasis on labor and human rights, international retailers have been requiring audit certificates from factory owners as a precondition for a commercial relationship. In the absence of effective factory inspection by state authorities, which often lack adequate resources or the political will to conduct inspections, the monitoring of the labor, health and safety situation at workplaces has thus been conducted by private audit firms.
Disasters ranging from the factory fires at Ali Enterprises in Pakistan and Tazreen in Bangladesh to the collapse of the Rana Plaza building have, however, tragically revealed a number of flaws in the current practice of private certification: independent and diligent audits seem rare and require, at best, a sort of »checklist compliance.« Certifiers financed by the very same businesses they have to assess are bound by contradictory incentive structures. Ultimately, certificates generate a high level of trust while incurring almost no legal risk.
Despite notorious shortcomings, the continuing practice of social audits is too often understood as a means to monitor working conditions effectively. Social audits are thus part of the problem rather than a solution, providing minor remedies while upholding a neo-liberal framework and legitimizing endemic features of global supply chains.