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8 Apr 2019

John G. Ruggie

John Ruggie welcomes appointment of Canadian Ombudsperson for Responsible Enterprise

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"Canadian Ombudsperson for Responsible Enterprise," 8 April 2019

On April 8, the Government of Canada established the office of Ombudsperson for Responsible Enterprise... Once the full legal powers of the Ombudsperson are in effect, Canada will have set the bar for other major home countries of multinational enterprises... The Ombudsperson serves not only a preventative role but is also tasked with mediating disputes between Canadian companies and affected communities abroad. If a company does not collaborate in good faith, the Ombudsperson can recommend withdrawal of financial support such as export credits from the company, or to deny it enhanced trade advocacy support. The Ombudsperson is also expected to obtain the authority to compel documentation and witnesses.

... The new ombudsperson gives people and communities affected by company-related human rights harm a direct interlocutor within the Canadian government, thereby providing a third-party forum to help resolve differences and provide remedy. It also gives businesses greater certainty as to its expected conduct when operating overseas... The Ombudsperson... is supported by a multi-stakeholder Advisory Body on Responsible Business Conduct, announced last year. Its membership is drawn from industry, workers organizations, civil society and academia, and it advises the Government on the effective implementation and further development of laws, policies and practices in this space. (Full disclosure: I serve as the Advisory Body’s Honorary Chair.)