An Afternoon with Jefferson Vilchez

It's about 1:30 in the afternoon when I meet Jefferson Vilchez, at Jibaro, a hot, muddy oil company port on the Rio Corrientes in Peru. . . .

This Small Change in the Law Will be Huge for Human Rights

Newly-introduced Massachusetts bill will extend the time for human rights survivors to file lawsuits from 3 years to 10 years.

The UN Wants to Survey the Bhopal Site. We Hope They Do.

Previous studies have found that toxins from the plant have contaminated wells averaging twelve—and ranging up to fifty-nine—times the legal limit.

Triunfo U'Wa: Proyecto Petrolero se ha Retirado del Territorio Indígena

Durante el año pasado, EarthRights International ha estado orgulloso de apoyar al pueblo U'wa en Colombia en su lucha contra el proyecto petrolero Magallanes, trabajando . . .

U’Wa Victory: Oil Project in Colombia Indigenous Territory Dismantled

For much of the past year, EarthRights International has been proud to support the U’Wa people in Colombia in their fight against the Magallanes oil . . .

One Federal appeals court is still deciding whether corporations can be liable for torture

Ah, déjà vu. In 2010, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals was an outlier, holding that corporations couldn’t be sued under the Alien Tort Statute . . .

Community-Driven OGMs

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Operational-level grievance mechanisms (OGMs) are procedures that companies use to investigate and remedy harms caused by their own operations. The concept of OGMs has been endorsed by the UN Human Rights Council, and companies are increasingly using them to address community grievances.

Unfortunately, OGMs are often designed and executed by the companies with little input from affected communities.  As a result, they reflect corporate priorities and interests rather than the needs and preferences of the communities. ERI has seen from firsthand experience that OGMs rarely give adequate remedies, can sometimes weaken the legal position of the people who use them to claim remedies, and may re-traumatize victims.

The goal of our Community-Driven OGMs Project is to reverse this trend.

We are developing a new OGM model for corporate human rights abuses. Under our model, affected communities—not the companies—will be largely responsible for designing and executing the mechanism. Unlike traditional OGMs, the Community-Driven OGM puts affected communities at the center.  After all, OGMs exist for them, not the company.

It makes no sense that a corporation that has violated basic human rights should be able to design the system through which its victims can seek justice. That power should belong to the affected communities who need to use the system to claim their rights. A successful Community-Driven OGM will amplify the voices of the affected communities. It will ensure that remedies are culturally appropriate.  It will guarantee that complaints processes are accessible and legitimate. It will put power back in the hands of affected people.  

The traditional OGM model empowers corporations but disempowers affected communities. Now is the time to challenge that model. We want to set a better standard for providing justice. Here's how we're going to do it:

First, we are creating a practical toolkit and a set of Foundational Principles.  These two elements can be a starting point for developing Community-Driven OGMs anywhere.

Next, we are launching pilot initiatives with community partners. This will help us test the model in the real world—not just in theory.  Our role will be to educate our partner communities on the ways that OGMs are typically structured, their rights as users of an OGM and their right to remedy under international human rights law. But it's the communities themselves that will be in the driver's seat, and it is they who will decide how the OGM works. Then, we will help them to engage with the companies whose operations affect their lives and livelihoods, to make sure that the OGM is put into practice according to their vision.

The Community-Driven Operational Grievance Mechanism Project is a project of EarthRights International and the Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations (SOMO).

Bank Convinces Court That Loans to Coal Companies are Unnecessary - so Why Not Cancel Them?

The U.S. Export-Import (ExIm) Bank has faced a fair amount of criticism in recent years, much of it from conservatives - such as Senator Mike . . .

New Transnational Strategies in Pursuit of Justice

The Business & Human Rights Resource Center ’s (BHRRC) latest Annual Briefing confirms what those of us working for corporate accountability already knew: 2014 was . . .

U.S. Courts Don't do the Bidding of Foreign Governments

Should federal courts dismiss cases whenever foreign governments say they should? Should they give more weight to the judicial systems of foreign countries than the . . .