In order to make sure businesses can no longer avoid responsibility for negative human rights and environmental impacts, these governance gaps need to be closed, and other systemic barriers to justice need to be removed.
Around the world, ideas and initiatives have emerged that aim to close the governance gaps and other systemic barriers to justice that allow or enable harmful corporate strategies to continue. These ideas and initiatives are often developed in engagement with and support of those people and groups who are most affected by corporate human and environmental rights abuses.
While working with civil society actors and supporting governments to counter the harmful strategies identified, the Mind the Gap team has identified several promising policy measures and initiatives already in progress that would help close some of the most persistent gaps. Below some of the most promising developments and initiatives are listed.
Promising policy measures, initiatives and resources
- There is a growing trend towards mandatory human rights and environmental due diligence: States, at national and regional level, increasingly require companies to conduct due diligence throughout their supply chains, defeating corporate strategies to construct deniability.
- Legislative developments and court rulings continue to develop the concepts of mandatory human rights due diligence and parent company liability, tackling how companies normally construct deniability and employ judicial strategies to avoid accountability for abuses in their supply chain or by subsidiaries.
- Promoting a Transparency Pledge, trade unions and human rights groups push for global apparel brands and companies to adopt supply chain transparency, making it more difficult for sourcing companies to construct deniability for human rights abuses in their supply chain.
- The United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Right develops recommendations for States on how to improve access to remedy for people affected by business related human rights abuses, addressing the judicial strategies adopted by companies to avoid liability.
- Civil society organizations support human rights defenders, among others through assistance and protection programs, as a means to counter companies’ tactics of utilising (suppressive) State power and undermining defenders and communities.
- Investigating corporate lobbying and promoting lobby transparency, civil society groups seek to decrease corporations’ ability to distract and obfuscate stakeholders, and utilise State power.
- Globally, large civil society movements have (in some instances successfully) campaigned to stop or prevent Investor-State Dispute Settlement clauses being included in trade and investment agreements, aiming to assure companies can no longer avoid stricter responsibility or liability by taking States to international arbitration.
- Besides providing support to people and groups targeted by SLAPPs (strategic lawsuits against public participation) expert organizations also problematize and advocate for the criminalization of SLAPPs, so companies can no longer file lawsuits to intimidate critics.
- The UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, mandated by the Human Rights Council, has developed and published a database, which is to be updated annually, of companies involved in illegal Israeli settlements. By having this information available publicly, the listed companies (and their suppliers/buyers) can no longer construct deniability.
- States, with input from experts and wider civil society, are developing a UN treaty, setting binding rules for business, based on international human rights law, so that – depending on the final text and adoption of the instrument – companies can no longer engage in jurisdiction shopping or shield parent companies from liability.