The ICBHR is campaigning for new corporate accountability legislation to prevent abuses by making Irish-based companies accountable for a range of corporate human rights violations, including forced labour, land grabs, attacks on human rights defenders, violence against women and denial of people's fundamental rights at work. The law would also allow victims to take companies to court in Ireland for damages
Our report details the pressing need for the Irish government to introduce a new law to hold Irish-based companies to account.
The ICBHR campaigns to ensure corporations are legally required to assess and address negative human rights impact across their value chains by calling for a robust UN treaty.
The treatment of supply chain workers, migrant workers, and those in precarious work, mostly women, represents an unsustainable and unjust business model of profit at the expense of human rights.
Read report ❯
The Coalition campaigns with our European partners for a legal framework for human rights and environmental due diligence at the EU level. The EU has just published its new law called the Corporate Sustainable Due Diligence Directive, and its provisions are being negotiated now in Brussels.
Our Coalition is working to ensure the EU corporate Sustainability Due Diligence directive is robust and protects people and the planet from corporate harm.
ShamPalm Industries is planning a 5-acre palm oil plantation in St Stephen’s Green in Dublin. The iconic park in the heart of Dublin city will be taken over to help meet the global demand for palm oil.
Well, not really – of course, nobody is really planning a palm oil plantation in St Stephen’s Green, but this is how it might feel if you were living in a Latin American or African community where these things do take place.
While there may be no plans for a palm oil plantation in St Stephen’s Green, in countries like Honduras, Ecuador, and Guatemala, entire communities are being forcibly displaced from their land to make way for just such palm oil plantations!
Those who resist are imprisoned, beaten, tortured, and even killed. The harm to people and the planet caused by palm oil plantations is just one of the many examples of what happens when corporate exploitation is left unchecked. The protest in St Stephen’s Green is being organised to highlight such unjust corporate activity, to build support for corporate accountability legislation and the urgent need to strengthen the EU Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive.
The actions of irresponsible businesses are devastatingly impacting human rights and the environment worldwide. At present, corporations are left to voluntarily police themselves, which has largely failed to effectively address environmental and human rights abuses related to business activities.
Mandatory legislation is needed to hold businesses to account for human rights and environmental abuses, such as: forced labour, violence against women, deforestation, union busting, forced evictions, land grabbing, harassment, threats, attacks and killings of human rights defenders, unchecked carbon emissions and biodiversity destruction.
Irish-based companies, such as the ESB and AirBnB Ireland, have been linked to human rights and environmental abuses.
For example, the ESB has imported millions of tons of coal sourced from the Cerrejón mine in Colombia for decades. Indigenous communities next to the mine have suffered from chronic poor health and contaminated water and have faced fear and intimidation when they voiced their opposition to the multi-billion-dollar mining industry.
Ireland’s tax, trade, and investment policies have also seen it become a hub for some of the biggest and most profitable companies in the world, including the top five global software companies, 14 of the top 15 medical technology companies, all of the top ten pharmaceuticals companies, and eight of the top ten industrial automation companies. Yet recent research from Trinity College Dublin’s Centre for Social Innovation showed that half of the top 60 companies in Ireland, including many of these multinationals, as well as Ireland’s ten-largest state-owned enterprises, scored less than 20 per cent on their human rights policies. Moreover, 34 per cent scored zero on embedding respect for human rights in their operations..
The EU’s Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive (CSDDD) is a draft law which was introduced by the European Commission in February 2022 and is currently being debated in the European Parliament. It aims to introduce mandatory laws for businesses to carry out human rights and environmental risk assessments, or due diligence across their global value chains, and crucially, to provide access to remedy and justice to victims of corporate harm. In other words, for the first time, businesses in the EU will be held to account for failing to take the necessary steps to ensure that human rights and environmental abuses are not occurring in their value chains.
The term “value chain” refers to the full range of business relationships or transactions involved in producing a good or service, from its initial design and investment to its final sale and use by the customer.
When it comes to exercising quality control over their supply chains, most corporations already have sophisticated systems in place to identify defective products and hold their suppliers accountable if a defect has occurred in the value chain. Companies should treat this as a quality control issue – a product that has human rights abuses or causes environmental harms in its production process should also be viewed as defective.
While some businesses are arguing against the introduction of new legislation, a growing number of leading businesses have supported calls for the legislation, arguing for the need to level the playing field. Many businesses recognise that this new legislation would be good for responsible businesses.
For instance, a group of 105 international investors representing $5 trillion in assets have called on governments to introduce due diligence legislation. Another group of 26 leading companies, including Adidas, Unilever, Primark and Mars with a combined annual turnover of almost €350 billion has called on the EU to introduce mandatory human rights and environmental due diligence legislation.
A level playing field is in the interest of businesses, as it would prevent businesses in one country from undercutting their rivals in other countries in areas such as workers' rights and environmental protections.
Making laws in the EU involves the European Commission, the European Parliament and the Council of the EU. The draft Due Diligence Directive was proposed by the European Commission in February 2022. The Council of the EU, representing the Governments of the Member States, agreed their common negotiating position on the draft law on 1 December 2022. The European Parliament is now in the final stages of agreeing its common negotiating position on the draft law. The European Parliament will have a plenary vote on 1 June. After that, all three institutions enter negotiations - the so-called ‘trilogues’- to agree on a final version of the Directive..
Get in touch with your MEP before 31st May! This is the real opportunity to hold the standards of the new law high so that it protects communities, people, and the planet. The European Parliament are now deliberating the draft Directive. As EU citizens, we have an opportunity to contact our MEPs to request that they advocate for a strong Directive. Remember: our MEPs are elected to represent our views, but if they don’t hear from their constituents, they can’t be blamed for assuming this issue doesn’t matter to us.
Please make your voice heard. >Take Action to tell the Irish MEPs that you want a strong and effective law which defends human rights and the environment.
Read our latest policy paper ‘Make It Your Business’ from the Irish Coalition on Business and Human Rights. It explores the issue in more detail and includes case studies of Irish companies..
Please watch this video from the Irish Coalition on Business and Human Rights explaining the devastating impact corporate abuse is having on communities’ human rights and the environment.
The Irish Coalition for Business and Human Rights is a coalition of civil society organisations, academic experts and trade unions working collaboratively to progress corporate accountability, based on respect for human rights and the environment.
The key purpose of the coalition is to collaborate and advocate strategically to achieve:
Trócaire, Trinity Centre for Social Innovation, Trinity Business School, Comhlámh, Front Line Defenders, Fairtrade Ireland, GLAN, Proudly Made in Africa, Trinity Law School – Academic, Centre for Business and Society (CeBaS) UCD, Oxfam, LASC, Christian Aid, Irish Congress of Trade Union, Friends of the Earth, National Women's Council, Irish Council for Civil Liberties, AMRI / AEFJN
Observers Organisation: ESCR-NET, Shift project, Action Aid Ireland Academic TerraJusta, Peace Brigades International, Save Our Sperrins, Women's Aid
The Irish Coalition for Business and Human Rights is a representative network of the European Coalition for Corporate Justice (ECCJ).
©2023 The Irish Coalition for Business and Human Rights