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NGO Rejoinder

5 Jul 2019

Public Eye

Public Eye rejoinder to company reactions in response to our report “Agricultural Commodity Traders in Switzerland: Benefitting from Misery?”

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28 June 2019

We welcome the chance to issue a rejoinder to the companies’ reactions in response to our report. Considering the responses, we would like to make the following observations and comments: 

Out of the 11 company responses [...], 5 can be considered rather generic statements... It seems that those companies prefer to highlight and point to existing policies or codes of conduct rather than deal with actual allegations or demonstrate actions taken to address the root causes of the issues portrayed in our report. While many admit that there remains a lot to be done to tackle issues in this sector, the focus still seems to lie largely on policies and standards...

Moreover, companies should [...] move from showing commitment and output to demonstrating actual impacts... A crucial instrument towards achieving their corporate responsibility to respect human rights, the UNGPs and its core piece, Human Rights Due Diligence, is absent. It is shocking that all but one company that responded to our report fail to mention the UNGPs...

We welcome the responses of the companies that provided a bit more detail regarding the contents of our report. Some have clarified inaccuracies when it comes to certain data used such as the size of their landholding or ownership of plantations. Due to the opacity of the sector, the available sources which we had to rely on might not have reflected the current state of affairs. Others point to the fact that our report relies on dated information about cases that are mostly resolved. Without more current information or evidence as to the satisfactory resolution of the mentioned violations, however, we must rely on said public data. While some companies accuse us of failing to provide context, hardly any have provided evidence themselves as to the alleged remediation of the cases. We welcome any evidence-based information provided by the companies with a view to updating specific data on our website if justified. 

We therefore reaffirm that the key findings of our report, none of which were contested by any of the companies, are valid and that after decades of failed corporate self-regulation, binding measures to tackling the issues in the sector are long overdue. 

[Business & Human Rights Resource Centre invited the 11 companies that sent statements to respond to this rejoinder...]