As well as emerging legal frameworks that directly address corporate impacts on human rights and the environment, most countries have a range of other laws whose provisions can help civil society actors hold companies to account for their behaviour.
In seeking to counter harmful corporate strategies, civil society actors can often use elements of laws on such different matters as employment and workers’ rights, health and safety, corporate conduct and disclosure, anti-corruption and transparency, land rights, indigenous rights, product safety, waste management (including toxic waste disposal), and environmental impact assessment. These laws can open up the opportunity to use legal or administrative processes or other avenues to challenge corporate counter-strategies. For example, some countries have incorporated the principle of free, prior, and informed consent (FPIC) of indigenous people – a human right under several international treaties – into national law. For example, Filipino law requires FPIC prior to the extraction of resources by mining companies from indigenous land.
In seeking to advance corporate accountability standards, civil society actors can work to strengthen laws such as the above on a range of issues related to human rights and the environment. This will help expand the legal toolkit available to challenge harmful corporate strategies. For example, civil society organisations played a key role in the adoption in 2014 of the EU Non-Financial Reporting Directive The Alliance for Corporate Transparency monitors implementation of the Non-Financial Reporting Directive and has lodged several complaints against companies for failing to fulfil their obligations. The Alliance has also continued to advocate for stricter reporting obligations for companies. In 2021, their efforts contributed to the European Commission’s adoption of a proposal for a Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive, which would strengthen the existing reporting requirements of the Non-Financial Reporting Directive and extend the scope of companies required to report. The Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive is set to become law in the second half of 2022. which promotes companies’ transparency and accountability on social and environmental issues.