BUSINESS AND HUMAN RIGHTS

  • 22 September 2013

Globalization has significantly changed the world we live in, presenting new and complex challenges for the protection of human rights. 

Economic players, especially companies that operate across national boundaries (trans-national companies), have gained unprecedented power and influence across the world economy.

This has not always benefited the societies in which they operate.

Amnesty International’s research has highlighted the negative impact companies can have on the human rights of the individuals and communities affected by their operations.

Companies cause harm by directly abusing human rights, or by colluding with others who violate human rights. Despite this potential to cause significant harm, there are few effective mechanisms at national or international level to prevent corporate human rights abuses or to hold companies to account.

This means those affected by their operations – often already marginalized and vulnerable – are left powerless, without the protection to which they are entitled, or meaningful access to justice.

Global standards on business and human rights

Governments have the primary obligation to secure universal enjoyment of human rights and this includes an obligation to protect all individuals from the harmful actions of others, including companies.

However, frequently governments fail to regulate the human rights impact of business or ensure access to justice for victims of human rights abuses involving business.

Until now most companies’ engagement with human rights responsibilities has been through voluntary codes and initiatives.  While some voluntary initiatives have a role to play, such voluntarism can never be a substitute for global standards on businesses’ mandatory compliance with human rights.

These global standards should address the human rights responsibilities and obligations of both states and companies.  As a minimum requirement, all companies should respect all human rights, regardless of the sector, country or context in which they operate.

What is Amnesty International doing?

Amnesty International’s work on economic players, including trans-national companies and international financial organizations, has developed in recognition of the power and influence they exert over states and international institutions, and the impact they have on human rights.

Through research and analysis, Amnesty International aims to highlight human rights abuses in which companies are implicated and how governments fail to prevent these abuses or hold companies to account when they occur.

The organization is campaigning for global standards on business and human rights and stronger legal frameworks at both national and international level to hold companies to account for their human rights impact.

Amnesty International asks companies to promote respect for human rights, including by:

  • using their influence in support of human rights
  • including a specific commitment to human rights in their statements of business principles and codes of conduct
  • producing explicit human rights policies and ensuring that they are integrated, monitored and audited across their operations and beyond borders
  • putting in place the necessary internal management systems to ensure that human rights policies are acted upon.

Amnesty International also calls on companies to make respect for human rights an integral component of their business operations, including through their dealings with other companies, partners, associates, subsidiaries, suppliers and government officials.

At the heart of Amnesty International’s concerns is the individual whose human rights may come under threat from the actions or inactions of economic players.

We strive to bring their voice to the debate in the hope that meaningful long-term solutions are firmly rooted in the real-life experience of those who fall victim to human rights abuses by corporate actors.

Give one reason Amnesty International should be working on this?

More than 7,000 people died when toxic gas leaked from a Union Carbide chemical plant in Bhopal, India, in 1984, and a further 15,000 people died in the following years.

Around 100,000 people continue to suffer from chronic and debilitating illnesses caused by the gas leak. Stockpiles of toxic waste were left in the abandoned site and neither the company nor the Indian government have, even to this day, cleaned up the site to prevent further contamination.

Despite the devastating impact on people’s lives, no-one has been held to account for the gas leak and the ensuing contamination.

The lack of effective regulation and accountability systems has meant court cases drag on and corporations and their leaders continue to evade accountability for thousands of deaths, widespread ill-health and ongoing damage to livelihoods.

With no effective national or supra-national legal options, more than two decades on, the survivors of Bhopal are still waiting for meaningful justice.

Unless effective regulation of companies’ impact on human rights is secured nationally and beyond borders, and a system that guarantees accountability for human rights abuses and allows victims effective access to justice is established, the serious failures of justice witnessed in the Bhopal case and elsewhere will continue to occur.

ENPI CBC MED: MULTILATERAL CROSS-BORDER COOPERATION “MEDITERRANEAN SEA BASIN PROGRAMME”

  • 7 September 2013

The multilateral cross-border cooperation “Mediterranean Sea Basin Programme” is part of the new European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) and of its financing instrument (European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument – ENPI) for the 2007-2013 period: it aims at reinforcing cooperation between the European Union (EU) and partner countries regions placed along the shores of the Mediterranean Sea.

14 participating countries, which represent 76 territories and around 110 million people, are eligible under the Programme: Cyprus, Egypt, France, Greece, Israel, Italy, Jordan, Lebanon, Malta, Palestinian Authority, Portugal, Spain, Syria and Tunisia.

The Operational Programme, approved on August 14th 2008 by European Commission decision C (2008) 4242, establishes a strategic framework of 4 Priorities jointly defined by the participating countries:
1) promotion of socio-economic development and enhancement of territories
2) promotion of environmental sustainability at basin level
3) promotion of better conditions and modalities for ensuring the mobility of persons, goods and capitals
4) promotion of cultural dialogue and local governance.

Public and private actors organized in Mediterranean cross-border partnerships are invited to submit projects proposals following the launch of public calls, which will be largely publicized. Main beneficiaries include regional and local public authorities, NGOs, associations, development agencies, universities and research institutes, as well as private actors operating in the fields of intervention of the Programme.

As main decision-making body, the Joint Monitoring Committee, composed of the representatives of the participating countries, supervises and ensures the quality and effectiveness of Programme implementation and approves projects for funding. The Joint Managing Authority, the Autonomous Region of Sardinia (Italy), is responsible for the operational and financial management of the Programme. It will be supported by a Joint Technical Secretariat, an international bureau also located in Cagliari while a network of National Contact Points contributes to the promotion of Programme opportunities and results in the eligible territories.

The ENPI CBC “Mediterranean Sea Basin” Programme has a budget of € 173 million, coming from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the Heading 4 – “EU as global partner” – of the EU budget.
Projects can be funded up to a maximum of 90% while partners have to provide a minimum of 10% co-financing.

Objective

The general objective of the Programme is to contribute to promoting the sustainable and harmonious cooperation process at the Mediterranean Basin level by dealing with the common challenges and enhancing its endogenous potential.

Principles

The Programme is based on a series of principles, jointly identified by the participating countries:

Co-ownership: Programme contents as well as its implementation modalities result from a joint elaboration based on the contribution of all the participating countries.
Common benefits: the Programme shall benefit to all the territories involved by combining local partners’ capacities to solve common problems and to improve social cohesion and competitiveness in the cooperation area.
Partnership: it is the essential condition to ensure the Programme effectiveness, guaranteeing the participation of the two shores of the Mediterranean sea and contributing to a better governance of the local development process.
Sustainable development: environment protection, management of natural resources, promotion of renewable energy sources and energy efficiency, sustainable socio-economic development and social cohesion should be considered in an integrated approach.
Equality of opportunity, non-discrimination, respect for human rights: while implementing the Programme and projects, a special attention should be paid to the principle of non-discrimination in order to be avoid any discrimination based on race, sex, nationality, language or religion.
Territorial dimension of the development processes and enhancement of endogenous potential of the cooperation area: this is to ensure that disadvantaged areas are also taken into account (for example, rural areas, small towns, declining industrial areas, landlocked territories, insular areas, etc.), with the aim of reinforcing a process of balanced and polycentric development.
Reinforcement the level of competitiveness: the process of integration of the Euro-Mediterranean region should also be complemented with a joint effort oriented towards a progressive definition of a coherent strategy of competitiveness of the area on the world scene. Coordination with other national and local initiatives should be pursued to ensure a better impact of the projects.
Co-financing: to promote the beneficiaries’ appropriation of the Programme and to maximize its leverage effects, it is necessary to mobilize public and private additional resources in order to ensure the sustainability of the undertaken projects.

Priorities and measures

In coherence with the general objective, participating countries have agreed to define the following four Priorities:

Priority 1: Promotion of socio-economic development and enhancement of territories, concentrating on innovation and research in key sectors for the cooperation area, creating synergies among potentials of the Mediterranean Sea Basin countries and strengthening strategies of territorial planning. It is composed of the following measures:
1.1 Support to innovation and research in the process of local development of the Mediterranean Sea Basin countries
1.2 Strengthening economic clusters creating synergies among potentials of the Mediterranean Sea Basin countries
1.3 Strengthening the national strategies of territorial planning by integrating the different levels, and promotion of balanced and sustainable socio-economic development

Priority 2: Promotion of environmental sustainability at the Basin level, pursued through the preservation of natural common heritage, the reduction of risk factors for the environment, the improvement of energy efficiency and the promotion of the use of renewable energy sources. It is composed of the following measures:
2.1 Prevention and reduction of risk factors for the environment and enhancement of natural common heritage
2.2 Promotion of renewable energy use and improvement of energy efficiency contributing to addressing, among other challenges, climate change

Priority 3*: Promotion of better conditions and modalities for ensuring the mobility of persons, goods and capitals, supporting the flows of people among territories as a cultural, social and economic plus for countries on both shores, and improving the conditions and modalities of circulation of goods and capitals among the territories. It is composed of the following measures:
3.1 Support to people flows among territories as a means of cultural, social and economic enrichment
3.2 Improvement of conditions and modalities of circulation of goods and capitals among the territories

Priority 4: Promotion of cultural dialogue and local governance, supporting the exchange, training and professional development of young people and all forms of dialogue among the communities as well as improving the governance process at local level. It is composed of the following measures:
4.1 Support to mobility, exchanges, training and professionalism of young people
4.2 Support to the artistic creativity in all its expressions to encourage dialogue among communities
4.3 Improvement of the governance processes at local level

Type of projects

A. Strategic projects
The topics of strategic projects are selected by the Joint Monitoring Committee, according to the main challenges of the cooperation area. They shall to take into account the opportunities and strengths which characterize the Mediterranean basin and respond to the needs of the eligible territories. Strategic projects can be considered as:
1) Horizontal, giving priority to a specific thematic approach regarded as strategic for the cooperation area and involving several territories and partners on the two shores of the basin;
2) Geographically concentrated, focusing on the identification of shared solutions to common issues and challenges in a limited number of territories from the two shores of the basin.

Strategic projects budget
• Minimum threshold: € 2.000.000
• Maximum threshold: € 5.000.000

Countries represented in the partnership
• Minimum number: 4 including of which at least 1 EU Mediterranean Country and 1 Mediterranean Partner Country

B. Standard projects
They are proposed by the local actors organized in cross-border partnerships, following the calls for proposals launched by the Programme.

Standard projects budget
• Minimum threshold: €500.000*
• Maximum threshold: € 2.000.000

Countries represented in the partnership
• Minimum number: 3 including at least 1 EU Mediterranean Country and 1 Mediterranean Partner Country

*50% of the budget allocated to Priority 4 “Promotion of cultural dialogue and local governance” is dedicated to projects with a minimum threshold of € 200.000.

Who can participate

The main categories of eligible actors are:

• Public bodies and local, regional and national authorities;
• Universities and research centers;
• Non-governmental organisations and those representing economic and social interests;
• Assocations and federations
• Companies and other private organisations.

Please note that applicants (lead partners) must be established in the eligible territories of the Programme.

Cooperation area

The eligible regions of the following 14 countries participate in the Programme.

• EU Mediterranean Countries

Cyprus: the whole country
France: Corse, Languedoc-Roussillon, Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur
Greece: Anatoliki Makedonia – Thraki, Kentriki Makedonia, Thessalia, Ipeiros, Ionia Nisia, Dytiki Ellada, Sterea Ellada, Peloponnisos, Attiki, Voreio Aigaio, Notio Aigaio, Kriti
Italy: Basilicata, Calabria, Campania, Lazio, Liguria, Puglia, Sardegna, Sicilia, Toscana
Malta: the whole country
Portugal: Algarve
Spain: Andalucía, Cataluña, Comunidad Valenciana, Murcia, Islas Baleares, Ceuta, Melilla

• Mediterranean Partner Countries (those having signed the Financing Agreement with the European Commission by 31st December 2009)

Egypt: Marsa Matruh, Al Iskandanyah, Al Buhayrah, Kafr ash Shaykh, Ad Daqahliyah, Dumyat, Ash Sharquiyah, Al Isma’iliyah, Bur Sa’id, Shamal Sina’ (the region of North Sinai does not participate for the time being in the Programe)
Israel: the whole country
Jordan: Irbid, Al-Balga, Madaba, Al-Karak, Al-Trafila, Al-Aqaba
Lebanon: the whole country
Palestinian Authority: the whole country
Syria*: Latakia, Tartous
Tunisia: Médenine, Gabès, Sfax, Mahdia, Monastir, Sousse, Nabeul, Ben Arous, Tunis, Ariana, Bizerte, Béja, Jendouba

Notes: Morocco has adhered to the Programme but has not signed the Financing Agreement with the European Commission.
AlgeriaLibya and the United Kingdom (Gibraltar) are eligible countries according to the ENPI CBC Strategy Paper but they are not participating in the Programme.
Turkey has requested not to be included anymore in the list of eligible territories, being a country in pre-accession phase to the EU.
*Based on the European Commission’s position, the sole participation of non‐State actors is admitted for Syrian organisations. The participation of Syrian State actors in the Programme  is not allowed for the time being.

Funding

The initial budget of the ENPI CBC Mediterranean Sea Basin Programme was € 173.6 million, coming both from the European Regional Development Fund and Heading 4 of the EU budget – EU as global partner. Following the mid-term evaluation of the ENPI cross-border component carried out in 2011, additional € 26.4 million have been granted to the Programme by the European Commission. This represents an increase of 15% over the original budget (€ 173.6 million) bringing it to € 200 million.

Budget
€ 200 million of EU contribution, of which:
€ 182.6 million for financing of cross-border projects*
€ 17.4 million for technical assistance.

National co-financing
The EU contribution covers maximum 90% of the project total budget, while the remaining 10% have to be provided by the beneficiary/partners as co-financing.

*A minimum of 10% of this amount will be added as co-financing at project level.

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