Wednesday, the UN Human Rights Council receives a report outlining alleged human rights abuses by big corporations in developing countries. While the report has not been made public yet, the ngo ActionAid says tougher measures are needed to stop the abuses. Julian Oram is an ActionAid policy adviser. From Geneva, he spoke to VOA English to Africa Service reporter Joe De Capua.
“The issue that ActionAid has been looking at for a while of corporate abuse of human rights is one that’s been ongoing for many years. And the report that’s being presented tomorrow morning by professor John Ruggie, who’s the Special representative on Business and Human Rights at the UN, is the culmination of about five years worth of work behind the scenes at the UN to really try and map out what the responsibilities of transnational companies are or should be regarding their human rights impacts,” he says.
He says that globalization is affecting the problem. “In an era of globalization, states that have historically held the responsibility to respect, protect and fulfill human rights are no longer able or in some cases unwilling to honor those obligations. And so what you’ve seen is other actors, such as transnational companies, who are extremely powerful, having as much if not more impact on human rights sometimes than states themselves.”
Oram cites an example of alleged corporate abuse documented by the ngo. “In Ghana, in 2006, we documented cases of communities that had been affected by a major international mining company, whose land and water had been poisoned by toxic spillages.”
ActionAid is calling on the UN Human Rights Council not to recommend “voluntary” compliance by corporations to solve abuse problems, but rather tough legal measures.