The UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, also known as the Ruggie Principles, are among the most important internationally recognized standards on corporate responsibility for human rights.
In 31 principles they set out states’ duty to protect human rights, corporate responsibility to protect human rights, and access to remedy when violations occur. The unanimous endorsement of the principles by the UN Human Rights Council in 2011 represented an important step forward towards corporate liability for human rights.
Businesses’ conduct, whether by action or omission, can cause, contribute to or be linked with a variety of human rights abuses in their own operations or their business relationships, including global value chains. ECCHR views it as essential that companies be legally obliged to adequately address human rights risks – and for them to be held accountable for possible damages.
Research by ECCHR showed: Syngenta’s pesticide Gramoxone – which is banned in many countries including throughout the EU – is used on plantations in Indonesia and the Philippines with almost no protective measures.
In a comprehensive study, ECCHR has examined whether European companies through their transnational operations cause or contribute to forced labor or other labor abuses along their supply chains and whether they can be held to account. The result of this work is reflected in the report “Accountability for forced labor in a globalized economy.”
ECCHR filed a criminal complaint against Nestlé and some of its top managers in 2012. The complaint accuses the managers of being in breach of their obligations by failing to prevent crimes of Colombian paramilitary groups and failing to adequately protect trade unionists from these crimes.
Mining projects in Africa, Asia and Latin America often give rise to environmental problems and social conflict. Local communities near the Tintaya Antapaccay mine in Peru have raised concerns about heavy metals polluting the water and associated health problems. The mine is run by a Glencore subsidiary.