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Commentary: General Comment by UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights sheds welcome light on UN Guiding Principles

Author: Mary Mayenfisch-Tobin, Reconnecting With Commonsense, and Gabriela Quijano of Amnesty Intl., Published on: 12 July 2017

"Corporate accountability and access to remedy for victims of human rights abuses - the way forward!" 8 July 2017

The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights’ General Comment on States Obligations under the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in the Context of Business Activities... is critically important for governments when enacting their National Action Plans on Business and Human Rights... and for business[es] when deciding... their [human rights]... policies... [It] reminds States of their often-forgotten duties to hold companies legally to account when they abuse human rights... [and] highlights the importance of ensuring effective means of claiming reparations directly from corporate perpetrators...[The General Comment includes] clear calls for action for states party to the Covenant to ensure effective monitoring of corporate conduct and criminal, administrative and civil redress in case of abuse... The General Comment... raises concerns about the protection that company law extends to corporate shareholders in the form of the so-called “corporate veil”,... [and highlights] challenges for victims of corporate abuses...[including] the difficulty of accessing information and evidence,... lack of class action mechanisms when large numbers of people are affected by corporate abuses, lack of legal aid and financial support to fund cases, the difficulties in ensuring effective cross border judicial and law enforcement collaboration and the threat of defamation claims against those who raise concerns or highlight corporate abuses.

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