Road to rights: The human cost of the new "Middle Corridor" is a summary analysis based on data collected from publicly reported allegations of environmental and human rights abuses by companies and investors involved in infrastructure projects (roads, rails, bridges, tunnels, etc.) in the Eastern Europe and Central Asia (EECA) region. We looked at this region considering that the war in Ukraine and international sanctions on Russia have shifted the trade route from the one passing through Russia toward the route(s) going from Central Asia and South Caucasus to Turkey/Black Sea and then onwards to Eastern Europe. The timeframe of allegations covers eight years from January 2016 to March 2023.
Allegations are primarily collected from articles from international and local media outlets of the EECA region and NGO reports. The tracker is predominantly based on materials available in English and Russian.
What do we include?
Only publicly reported allegations of specific incidents are captured and not information on general trends of abuse that cannot be tied specifically to one of the tracked companies’ operations. For each allegation, we identify the operating company involved in the alleged abuse as well as investors. While allegations are based on actual events, in specific cases when potential risks of planned infrastructure are highlighted by experts, these allegations are also included in the data allowing us to approach companies and investors to prevent abuses.
The main categories of data we capture are:
- the country where the alleged abuse took place;
- the company against which the allegation is raised (including financial institutions involved in financing);
- the types of alleged abuses;
- the affected stakeholders (community, public, workers, ecosystem, human rights defenders, Indigenous Peoples, and women).
We analyse each allegation against a set of 35 indicators of environmental and human rights abuses, which are sorted into five broad categories: Environmental impacts (access to water; water pollution; impact on notable or protected areas; clean, healthy & sustainable environment; impact assessment), Impacts on community (land rights; Insufficient/inadequate consultation; indigenous peoples; right to culture; religious groups; displacement; discrimination/diversity, gender discrimination; personal health; social security), Human rights defenders and civil society (protests; deaths; injuries; violence; intimidation; freedom of expression; denial of freedom of movement; strategic lawsuits against public participation or SLAPPs; arbitrary detention), Labour rights and workers (occupational health & safety; deaths; injuries; wage theft; forced labour & modern slavery; work & conditions; discrimination/diversity; freedom of association), Governance and transparency (access to information; corruption; complicity).
Seeking company responses
In line with the Resource Centre’s broader strategy and libel policy, we make every effort to reach out to companies accused of abuse and ask them to respond to allegations made using our Company Response Mechanism, unless the company has already publicly commented on the case or if the abuse is the basis of a lawsuit or regulatory action.
Scope and limitations
The tracker captures publicly reported information on alleged abuses committed by companies. The Resource Centre does not independently verify the accuracy of the allegations. When relevant and possible, the Resource Centre uses the Company Response Mechanism (see above) to seek responses from companies implicated in the commission of the alleged abuses. Similarly, the Resource Centre does not verify the accuracy of corporate statements on actions taken to respond. In cases when a company has no website or contact information available, a CRM was not conducted.
The tracker does not purport to provide comprehensive information on all allegations of abuse against construction companies. It only captures information specific to certain companies and to specific infrastructure projects. Furthermore, it only includes publicly available information recorded on the Resource Centre website, as well as in local/regional media. Restrictions on civil society activism in certain parts of the world coupled with limited means of action for affected parties and fears of reprisals can translate into under-reporting of abuses.