Holding Corporations to Account for their Failure to Exercise Human Rights Due Diligence: Experiences in Transnational Litigation

3 December 2013, 14.00-15.00h, UN Forum on Business and Human Rights, Geneva - Room XXII E

Bread for the World, Misereor, ECCHR, Business & Human Rights Resource Centre

The UN Guiding Principles expect business enterprises to exercise human rights due diligence. Even though the guiding principles themselves are not legally binding, neglect of this corporate responsibility often constitutes a breach of national law. Based on a wide experience in home and host state litigation, the speakers will outline how companies involved in human rights abuses can be made liable under national law and where there are still major challenges in this area. A closer look at concrete cases will help to understand the specific challenges in transnational litigation and demonstrate the impact of such litigation for victims and their communities.

Chile Ayer-Hoy / Resistance against Pinochet

16 November 2013, 7 PM, ECCHR Office

Opening of the exhibition by
Federico Zukerfeld und Loreto Garín Guzmán

The graphic installation by Federico Zukerfeld (Argentina) and Loreto Garín Guzmán (Chile)—based on the fascist propaganda book "Chile Yesterday Today"—illustrates the ideological use of imagery and symbolism in building the logos of fascism, its logics and narratives. The book was published in Chile in 1975 under the Chilean military government of Augusto Pinochet.

Resistance against Pinochet
Underground documentaries
Office party
from 8 PM

11 September 1973: Military Coup in Chile

© José Giribas

Crimes, Resistance and Legal Intervention

On 11 September 1973 the democratically elected socialist President Salvador Allende was ousted in a Chilean military coup led by junta leader Augusto Pinochet. This marked the beginning of the bloodiest military dictatorship – alongside with the military dictatorship in Argentina (1976-1983) – in Latin American history, during which thousands of people were murdered, tortured and kidnapped. Yet even through the years of greatest repression, left-wing parties and the inhabitants of Chile’s shanty towns continued to organize resistance against the regime. After a successful campaign by his opponents, Pinochet met his downfall in a referendum held in 1988, formally marking the end of his dictatorship. But even after the elections in 1989, Pinochet remained the dominant figure in Chilean political life. This changed only much later on when, on 16 October 1998, Pinochet was arrested in London. 

On the 40th anniversary of the Chilean military coup and to mark the 15th anniversary of Pinochet’s arrest in London, we are hosting a series of events to explore what impact these historic moments had on the global human rights movement. How have these events inspired similar actions in the global struggle for social justice? What effects do they still have today on legal interventions? Is the growing importance of the human rights movement – as Samuel Moyn puts forward in the book ‘The Last Utopia’ – indeed a reaction to the devastating defeat suffered by various left-wing political projects? Legal steps taken in the aftermath of the military dictatorships in Argentina and Chile led to hundreds of court proceedings being carried out in those countries, experiences which serve to demonstrate how a transnationally active human rights movement can successfully rally against impunity.

We plan to discuss these issues with those who were directly involved in the events as well as with lawyers, activists, artists and historians and to learn about their personal experiences. Additionally, we hope that the combination of historical perspective, political and legal analysis and artistic interventions will inspire new visions for contemporary human rights work.

All events take place at ECCHR, Zossener Str. 55-58, Entrance D, 5th floor, 10961 Berlin.

Exception: The event on 30 September 2013 takes place at the Berliner Abgeordnetenhaus, Room 311, Niederkirchnerstraße 5, 10117 Berlin.




11 September 2013, 19.00, ECCHR-Office
Resistance in Chile, book launch and vernissage of the photo exhibition “Impressions of a Dictatorship”

18 September 2013, 19.00, ECCHR-Office
Germany and the Chilean Military Dictatorship – the Colonia Dignidad, panel discussion
30 September 2013, 19.00, Berliner Abgeordnetenhaus
The ‘Pinochet Effect’– the Impact of Transnational Legal Action, panel discussion
16 October 2013, 19.00, ECCHR-Office

Mercedes Benz Argentina. A Company and its Responsibility, Film screening and discussion
6 November 2013, 19.00, ECCHR-Office

This event will take place at another date! We will inform you soon!

Corporations and their Legal Responsibility for the Crimes of the Dictatorship in Argentina, panel discussion
16 November 2013, 19.00, ECCHR-Office

Vernissage of the exhibition „Chile Ayer-Hoy“ and documentaries on the resistance against Pinochet


Please register at
This series of events has been made possible through the financial support of the


Dirty Wars - Schmutzige Kriege

17 October 2013, 7 pm, ECCHR-Office

German launch of Jeremy Scahill's book "Dirty Wars"

In this chilling account, Jeremy Scahill, one of America’s best known investigative journalists, reveals how murder has become a central instrument of US foreign policy. Scahill interviewed CIA agents, mercenary soldiers and US army forces in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and other locations. Going far beyond the range of the press, he gained access to al-Qaida controlled territory in Yemen, met CIA-backed warlords in Mogadishu and spoke with civilian victims of US Special Operations strikes and drone attacks, incidents that the United States would rather keep under wraps.

The book is published in German on 9th October 2013 by Antje Kunstmann.

Jeremy Scahill has reported from wars in Yugoslavia, Nigeria and Iraq. In his international bestseller Blackwater he was one of the first to report on the notorious eponymous private security firm operating on behalf of the US in international war zones and on American soil.

We ask that you register for the event at . We look forward to seeing you there!

Note: The event will be held in English.

“Fight Nestlé to the death”

ECCHR-Office, 27 September, 18.30

afterwards discussion with Alirio Uribe of the Colombian human rights organization CAJAR

On 10 September 2005, the Colombian trade unionist Luciano Romero was brutally stabbed to death by paramilitaries in Valledupar, Cesar, in the northeastern part of Colombia. Romero had previously been employed for many years by the Colombian Nestlé-subsidiary Cicolac. The management of the subsidiary had stigmatized him as a guerrilla fighter; the Swiss management had not reacted adequately regarding these accusations. Together with the Colombian trade union SINALTRAINAL and Colombian lawyers, including Alirio Uribe, on 5 March 2012, ECCHR submitted a criminal complaint in Switzerland against the company Nestlé and five of its managers for negligent homicide by omission.

The documentary by Temps Présent (Radio Télévision Suisse) gives an account of the murder of Luciano Romero as well as his Philippine trade union colleague, Diosdado Fortuna, who was killed several days later, on 22 September 2005, after a protest in front of the Nestlé-factory in the Philippines.

After the screening, the status of the case in Switzerland will be explained and its significance in Colombia evaluated. In addition, the responsibility of transnational corporations acting in weak governance zones will be discussed.


The film will be shown in its English version; the discussion will be held in Spanish with English translation.