Catherine Coumans, “Mining and Access to Justice: From Sanction and Remedy to Weak Non-Judicial Grievance Mechanisms”

Working Abstract

At the end of his first three year mandate, UN Special Representative to the Secretary General on human rights and transnational business enterprises, John Ruggie, tabled his “Protect, Respect and Remedy” framework report. In this 2008 report, Ruggie concluded that transnational companies that perpetrate human rights abuses in host countries should be subject to sanction and those harmed should have access to remedy. Three years later, in his “Guiding Principles for the Implementation of the United Nations `Protect, Respect and Remedy` Framework,” Ruggie focuses on State and Non-State-based non-judicial grievance mechanisms as vehicles through which individuals and communities whose human rights have been harmed by corporations may seek sanction and remedy. This paper argues that voluntary non-judicial grievance mechanisms, as a device of Corporate Social Responsibility, do not currently assure protection of the human rights of those who allege to have been harmed by a mining company and may in fact contribute to a violation of rights in these cases. The State-based mechanism of the National Contact Point to the OECD Guidelines on Multinational Enterprises illustrates shortcomings. An example is provided regarding mining in Mongolia.

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