Posts Tagged ‘private sector companies’

Business and human rights: Updated list of companies supporting HRDs

September 30, 2020

Business support for HRDs & civic freedoms does exist but is not widespread. The Business and Human Rights Resource Centre just updated its list of 29 companies that do.

One of the most important and urgent opportunities for responsible business is to support civic freedoms – freedoms of association, assembly, expression and privacy – and the people who exercise the rights to defend all human rights. There is a clear normative responsibility for companies to respect human rights, as set forth in the Guiding Principles on Business & Human Rights (UNGPs), and companies also have a discretionary opportunity to go above and beyond these defined responsibilities and expectations. The UNGPs are a hard floor, not a low ceiling, for company action to support civic freedoms and human rights defenders (HRDs). This page gathers the latest news on business action in support of human rights defenders and features a collection of company and investor policies that mention HRDs.

You can download the List of statements and commitments on HRDs & civic freedoms (last updated in August 2020) from:

https://www.business-humanrights.org/fr/th%C3%A8mes-majeurs/human-rights-defenders-civic-freedoms/how-companies-investors-can-support-hrds/

This would seem to fit nicely with the Open call for input by the UN: June 2021 marks the tenth anniversary of the unanimous endorsement by the Human Rights Council of the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs). A major step forward in efforts to prevent and address business-related human rights abuse, they provide a global authoritative framework for State duties and business responsibilities to achieve the UNGPs’ vision of “tangible results for affected individuals and communities, and thereby also contributing to a socially sustainable globalization.”

UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights is undertaking a new project to chart a course for a decade of action on business and human rights. This effort, informed by wide-ranging stakeholder consultations, will take stock of achievements to date, assess existing gaps and challenges, and, most importantly, develop an ambitious vision and roadmap for implementing the UNGPs more widely and more broadly between now and 2030.

Open call for input – ‘Have your say’ PDF: English

see also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2020/04/29/covid-and-human-rights-shifting-priorities-also-for-companies/

https://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Business/Pages/UNGPsBizHRsnext10.aspx

The favourite domain of human rights NGOs, “.ORG”, at risk

January 27, 2020

David Gilbert in Vice.com of 24 January and Caitlin Harrington in the The Cascadia Advocate of 26 January 2020 (among others) address an important issue that could affect many human righs NGOs and thus human rights defenders. A private equity fund (backed by three prominent Republican billionaire families) is expected to buy the dot-org domain, throwing into question whether the online safe haven for rights organizations and nonprofits could now face censorship or spiralling costs. Ethos Capital has offered $1 billion for the domain, which is currently operated by a nonprofit.

[Back in the fall of 2019, the private equity firm Ethos Capital announced its plans to buy the Public Interest Registry (PIR) for more than $1 billion. PIR is owned by the Internet Society and manages the .ORG domain registry, which since 1985 has been used by nonprofits and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) like the Northwest Progressive Institute (NPI). Dot org is what is known as top layer domain… the last part of a uniform resource locator (URL), or web address. For example, nwprogressive.org. Dot-org is home to over 10 million URLs, making it the third-largest domain on the internet today. A huge variety of organizations use the domain ending, from massive multinational organizations like UNICEF to local libraries and animal shelters. PIR is a nonprofit entity that has been managing the registry and setting the prices that owners pay when they register .ORG domains.]

In a letter to the Internet Society from the Electronic Frontier Foundation, an ally of NPI that opposes the sale, it was explained that this move could cause significant harm to nonprofits and NGOs. They argue that without oversight from an appropriate placement, the registry would have the power to make policy changes that would detrimental to .ORG stakeholders, including:

  • The power to raise .org registration fees without the approval of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) or the .ORG community. A .ORG price hike would put many cash-strapped NGOs in the difficult position of either paying the increased fees or losing the legitimacy and brand recognition of a .ORG domain. [Yearly fees for .ORG sites are, on average, between $10 to $20.]
  • The power to develop and implement Rights Protection Mechanisms unilaterally, without consulting the .org community. If such mechanisms are not carefully crafted in collaboration with the NGO community, they risk censoring completely legal nonprofit activities.
  • The power to implement processes to suspend domain names based on accusations of “activity contrary to applicable law. ”The .ORG registry should not implement such processes without understanding how state actors frequently target NGOs with allegations of illegal activity.

NPI cosigned EFF’s letter, with NPI’s founder and Executive Director Andrew Villeneuve explaining: “The pending sale is of great concern to NPI because we own a significant number of .org domains. We could be affected by price hikes and bad policies imposed by the proposed new owner.”…….Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web, was among those expressing grave concern and opposition at the time the sale was announced.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation also made the point in their letter opposing the sale, that back in 2002, amid similar talks of selling the .ORG registry, ISOC’s then president and CEO Lynn St. Amour assured the NGOs worldwide that the registry would continue to be accountable to the nonprofit sector.

Erik Brooks, founder and CEO of Ethos Capital, stated in a public blog post that the firm is investing in “the long-term vitality of .ORG and its users” and that “PIR’s partnership with Ethos will create new opportunities for PIR to provide enhanced services and support to the .ORG community.” He also promised that these enhanced services will be developed “in collaboration with the community.” But last month, ICANN published documents with the names of three directors of Ethos Capital involved in the sale redacted, which only deepened the concerns of nonprofits and NGOs.

….Tarleton argued the Washington Secretary of State’s office should be forcefully opposing the sale and calling attention to it. “This is the slippery slope of privatization that happens when no one is paying attention,” she warned.

….“We’re confident that this is in the best interests of the registry, in the best interests of the registrants, and in the best interest of the whole internet,” Andrew Sullivan, CEO of the Internet Society, a nonprofit that oversees the domain, told VICE News. But critics of the move say the promises made by Ethos Capital are not backed by any legal obligations. They also say there’s a problematic lack of transparency about the sale and who will be running the new organization overseeing the domain. So a group of respected internet pioneers and nonprofit leaders have come forward to offer an alternative proposition. But they don’t have $1 billion to offer.

This week the Internet Society and ICANN approved a 30-day extension to the process, giving both sides until 20 February to approve the sale. “This is by far the largest outpouring of public concern ICANN has ever seen,” Malthouse said. “It’s a huge opportunity for ICANN to prove it has the courage to stand behind its founding principles.”

https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/wxenaz/3-billionaire-republican-families-are-about-to-buy-the-dot-org-domain-thats-terrifying-nonprofits

NPI’s Gael Tarleton warns proposed sale of .ORG domain registry could harm nonprofits

Pacific human rights defenders can do more to deal with extractive industries

March 7, 2019

Patrick Earle, the director of the Diplomacy Training Programme.

Patrick Earle, the director of the Diplomacy Training Programme. Photo: RNZ Pacific

The Australia-based Diplomacy Training Programme offers education and training, as well as capacity-building for NGOs, human rights defenders, and community advocates.

The NGO turns 30 this year, and its director Patrick Earle said it is refocusing its work on the Pacific region. “Because we feel there is a lot of vulnerability. There’s a lot of economic activity. A lot of people see the Pacific as a place they can take things from, and take things from in a way that doesn’t recognise standards of human rights that are accepted internationally,” Patrick Earle said.

Mr Earle said if local people gain better understanding of their rights, and of the responsibilities of governments and companies, they will be in a better position to negotiate better outcomes from local development. Mr Earle said that in the Pacific, people tended to talk about victims of development rather than beneficiaries of development. “So where people aren’t giving their free, prior, informed consent based on both knowledge of their rights but also knowledge of the outcomes of particular forms of development, then we see very negative impacts that can feed into community conflict, that can feed into environmental damage, a whole wide range of issues,.

Mr Earle said that his organisation’s work in human rights in the Pacific was revealing a pattern of issues particularly in the extractive industries. He also mentioned concerns around deep sea mining, concerns about labour in fisheries, and treatment of migrant or seasonal workers. “There’s a wide range of issues, but there’s very little knowledge and awareness of the international standards that people can use to try and shape their development.”

https://www.radionz.co.nz/international/pacific-news/383669/pacific-communities-urged-to-hold-companies-and-governments-accountable

First time major companies say that human rights defenders are essential for profitable business

December 13, 2018

Ana Zbona, Project Manager of Civic Freedoms and Human Rights Defenders at the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre writes about a primeur in her area: for the first time major companies have said that that human rights defenders and civic freedoms essential for profitable business,

Image: Companies supporting the statement

The statement is the first of its kind, with supporters including Unilever, Adidas, Primark, ABN AMRO, Anglo American, Leber Jeweler, Domini and the Investors Alliance on Human Rights. It stresses that when human rights defenders are under attack, so is sustainable and profitable business….Human rights defenders, civil society organizations, international organizations and progressive governments have been insisting for years that if civic freedoms which allow citizens to propose solutions to social problems, and to push governments to respect and protect human rights, are eroded, so are any prospects for sustainable development and just and inclusive economic growth. Now, these voices have been joined by a group of well-known brands and investors who are vocal about how they, too, depend on the rule of law, accountable governance, stable investment environments and respect for human rights. Read the statement here.

However, see also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2018/11/13/new-human-rights-ranking-for-businesses-shows-dismal-progress-for-most-firms/

https://www.business-humanrights.org/en/human-rights-defenders-and-civic-freedoms-essential-for-profitable-business-say-major-companies

Commercial spyware out of control and becoming threat to human rights defenders

December 6, 2017

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Human rights group brands five companies as “mercenaries” and five countries as “enemies of the internet”

March 17, 2013

Internet!

 

Human rights group Reporters Without Borders has named and shamed five companies it claims allowed their products to be used by countries with bad human rights records and the NGO also named five countries as “enemies of the internet“. It said that five private sector companies; Gamma, Trovicor, Hacking Team, Amesys and Blue Coat are “digital era mercenaries”. The overall list of companies it believed were involved in selling products to authoritarian regimes was “not exhaustive” and will be expanded in the coming months. “They all sell products that are liable to be used by governments to violate human rights and freedom of information,” the group said.”Their products have been or are being used to commit violations of human rights and freedom of information. If these companies decided to sell to authoritarian regimes, they must have known that their products could be used to spy on journalists, dissidents and netizens.” It added that if surveillance products were sold to an authoritarian regime by an intermediary without their knowledge, “their failure to keep track of the exports of their own software means they did not care if their technology was misused and did not care about the vulnerability of those who defend human rights.” Research by Bloomberg, the Wall Street Journal and the University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab has established that surveillance technology used against dissidents and human rights defenders in such countries as Egypt, Bahrain and Libya came from western companies, it claimed.

 

The Paris-based group labelled Syria, China, Iran, Bahrain and Vietnam as“enemies of the internet” Read the rest of this entry »