Mechanisms for Improving Access to Justice for Victims of Human Rights Abuses by Corporations (UNSRSG Submission)

In this submission to Professor John Ruggie, the United Nations Secretary General's Special Representative on Business & Human Rights, ERI addresses the issue of access to justice, which was highlighted by Mr. Ruggie in his report to the Human Rights Council last year.  As he enters the final year of his mandate, ERI seeks to remind Professor Ruggie of the benefits that transnational litigation under the U.S. Alien Tort Statute has afforded to victims by providing a forum for access to justice especially when such access is lacking elsewhere.

ERI encourages the SRSG to focus part of his final views and recommendations on creating additional fora where victims of human rights abuses associated with corporations may seek justice.  To this end, ERI further encourages the SRSG to support the codification of corporate obligations with respect to human rights, as a step toward the eventual implementation of a multilateral treaty, and to continue to work to increase access to justice for victims of abuses.

In furtherance of our own mission and as a member of the ESCR-Net Corporate Accountability Working Group, ERI has been following the work of the SRSG since the beginning of his mandate two and a half years ago.  In 2005, ERI submitted a report to the SRSG on earth rights abuses perpetrated by corporations in Burma, and contributed to a Joint NGO Report on Human Rights and Extractive Industry.  ERI presented an Asian Civil Society Statement, signed by 21 NGOs, to the SRSG at a regional consultation in Bangkok in June of 2006, and submitted a report on corporate aiding and abetting liability in July 2006.  Late last year, ERI endorsed the Joint Open Letter to UN Special Representative on Business and Human Rights.