Non-judicial grievance mechanisms: 19 reports highlight case studies, analyse redress mechanisms, provide recommendations to co.s & govts.

Package of materials on non-judicial grievance mechanisms by Non-Judicial Human Rights Redress Mechanisms Project including:

10 in depth case studies

...examining harms caused by mining, agribusiness and textile clothing and footwear production in India and Indonesia, and the attempts of communities and workers to pursue some form of remedy through complaints mechanisms, legal cases, long term organizing and shorter term campaigns. This includes case studies of POSCO's Odisha ProjectIndia's Tea Sectorthe Siawan Belida REDD+ ProjectWilmar and Palm Oil GrievancesTribal Claims against the Vedanta Bauxite Mine and RefineryComplaints related to the PT Weda Nickel MineRajasthan Stone QuarriesLeather footwear workers in Tamil NaduForced labour in the Textile and Garment sector in India, and the Global Footwear and Apparel Supply Chains in Indonesia.

5 reports analyzing specific non-judicial redress mechanisms

...including the Compliance Advisor Ombudsman (CAO) of the International Finance Corporation and Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency and the National Contact Point initiative of the OECD as well as three multi-stakeholder initiatives that provide avenues for redress: the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO)the Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI), and the Freedom of Association Protocol, an Indonesian based multi-stakeholder initiative with links to major sportswear brands.

2 reports with specific recommendations for Australia and the United Kingdom

...as countries that domicile multinationals and financiers involved in the ten cases studied or have significant supply chain connections with those cases.

2 cross-cutting reports

Beyond the UN's Effectiveness Criteria: 1 report that summarises the lessons for our broader understanding of non-judicial redress mechanisms, and reflects on the UN Guiding Principles Effectiveness Criteria for Non-Judicial Redress Mechanisms.

Civil society guide: 1 guide with lessons and questions for communities, workers, civil society, trade unions and other allies thinking about taking a complaint through a non-judicial redress mechanism

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Article
2 December 2016

A guide for communities, workers, civil society and trade unions considering using transnational non-judicial redress mechanism

Author: May Miller-Dawkins

November 2016

Around the world, communities and workers experience human rights abuses from companies. Land is taken without consent. Rivers and land is polluted. Workers work long hours for low wages, in unsafe conditions. Workers cannot organize collectively and bargain with employers. Workers die from unsafe conditions and face abuse and harassment.

What are the options for communities and workers to try to hold these companies to account and to gain some remedy for the harm they have experienced?

This guide shares the findings five years of research focused on whether or not a type of complaint mechanism – non-judicial mechanisms operating across countries – are effective in providing some kind of redress to workers and communities. It shares findings in a form that can potentially help communities and workers, or their partners – trade unions, community organizations, local, national and international non-governmental organizations – to make decisions about whether or not to use such a mechanisms, and if yes, how.

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Article
2 December 2016

Beyond Effectiveness Criteria: The possibilities and limits of transnational non-judicial redress mechanisms

Author: May Miller-Dawkins, Kate Macdonald, University of Melbourne & Shelley Marshall, Monash University

November 2016

As the global debate on business and human rights considers how to improve business respect, and ensure access to remedy…the case studies examined in this report contribute insights about the kinds of effects non-judicial mechanisms produce, under what conditions, and how they contribute to broader systems of remedy. Non-judicial redress mechanisms have an explicit purpose of providing access to remedy… Across ten cases we examined, the non-judicial redress mechanisms fell short of delivering individual remedy both procedurally and substantively, although in five cases we documented some form of positive result from the perspective of claimants seeking remedy…In our cases, the result of mediation or other non-judicial process largely did not align with the remedy desired by complainants or meet the standard of “relief needed to repair the harm”. The research point to the fact that the effectiveness of a transnational non-judicial mechanism is not myopically reliant on its own institutional design or process rules…

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Article
2 December 2016

Forced Labour in the Textile and Garment Sector in Tamil Nadu, South India: Strategies for Redress

Author: Annie Delaney, RMIT University & Tim Connor, University of Newcastle

November 2016

This case study examines the grievances of young women, predominantly Dalit, who are recruited from remote villages to work in…garment factories…in South India. Companies sourcing in this industry from Tamil Nadu include…Marks & Spencer, Sainsbury, Asda/Walmart, Tesco, Mothercare, Zara, Primark, C&A and H&M…Women work under…forced labour conditions, have low pay and poor conditions...Existing power imbalances have the effect of making the women more vulnerable due to their poverty, gender and caste…A number of initiatives have been taken by local and international NGOs…These actions have been effective in…shifting judicial and government responses to be more responsive to…labour rights challenges... The various claim-making strategies…have had limited impact on improving conditions for these workers…The unwillingness of global companies (from the UK and other countries) to offer their suppliers genuine incentives to cooperate in human rights initiatives (as opposed to threats to cut orders), significantly limits the effectiveness of voluntary non-judicial redress mechanisms, including the ETI.

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Article
2 December 2016

Non-judicial mechanisms in global footwear and apparel supply chains: Lessons from workers in Indonesia

Author: Tim Connor, University of Newcastle, Annie Delaney, RMIT University & Sarah Rennie, Melbourne University

November 2016 

This case study describes how Indonesian garment and footwear workers, and allied organisations have used a combination of strategies to pursue their rights, which includes engaging with local and international non-judicial mechanisms…Although Indonesia’s labour laws are relatively progressive, its enforcement strategy and industrial dispute resolution remains weak. Workers who collectively organise and take industrial action in pursuit of improved wages and conditions can face significant intimidation and threats to their job security…The Indonesian trade unions we interviewed generally use a combination of strategies to pursue rights grievances…Our research suggests that…non-judicial redress mechanisms can play a more useful role than is apparent when they are considered in isolation…However, while we found evidence that combining strategies in this way can result in improved respect for workers’ rights, in those cases where some form of human rights redress was achieved, it was generally partial and in some cases the improvements in respect for human rights proved to be temporary…

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Article
2 December 2016

OECD National Contact Points: Better navigating conflict to provide remedy to vulnerable communities

Author: Shelley Marshall, Monash University

November 2016

Each country that is a member of the…OECD…is obliged to set up an NCP office, which is responsible for promoting and implementing the Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises…Our report adds to the growing literature on NCPs by examining the efforts to gain redress in practice…

In both case studies discussed in this report - the POSCO and Vedanta cases - human rights grievances were experienced by vulnerable…communities…Violence was experienced…A number of the community members…were killed, and many were…jailed…NCPs have significant potential to provide greater access for victims of human rights abuses to effective remedy… For this potential to be realised, NCPs require strengthening in a number of respects…In summary, these areas include:

  • independence from government;
  • greater leverage…
  • within government coordination;
  • cross-country coordination of NCPs;
  • encouraging long term improvements in human rights practices in businesses;
  • coordination with institutions in the country where the grievance occurred;
  • monitoring…
  • …increase accessibility…
  • Transparency…
  • frequency of NCP peer reviews.

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Article
2 December 2016

Redress for Transnational Business-Related Human Rights Abuses in Australia

Author: May Miller-Dawkins, Shelley Marshall, Monash Univerisity, Kate Macdonald, University of Melbourne & Kristen Zornad

November 2016

This report contributes to ongoing debates about how Australia can best fulfill its obligations to enable people affected by human rights failures of Australian companies abroad to access remedy, with a particular focus on the distinctive role of non-judicial redress systems…The report finds that Australia has not yet comprehensively addressed the human rights impacts of Australian companies and investors in either policy of legal terms. Women and men whose human rights are impacted within Australian company value (supply) chains or investment portfolios still have very few avenues to seek remedy…Australia’s recent commitment to develop a National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights provides an opportunity to engage diverse stakeholders in considering the role of all parts of government, and developing comprehensive policy and legal frameworks to fulfill obligations under the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. The third pillar of access to remedy requires significant attention…

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Article
2 December 2016

Redress for Transnational Business-Related Human Rights Abuses in the UK

Author: May Miller-Dawkins, Shelley Marshall, Monash University & Kate Macdonald, University of Melbourne

November 2016

This report contributes to ongoing debates about how the United Kingdom can best fulfil its obligations to enable people affected by human rights failures of UK companies abroad to access remedy…In some respects the United Kingdom has shown leadership in establishing principles and processes to protect the human rights of people affected by the overseas operations of UK businesses, in keeping with the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. The UK has led the way internationally in the creation and revision of a National Action Plan for Business and Human Rights. The UK’s National Contact Point has received the most complaints of any OECD National Contact Point globally. Multi-stakeholder initiatives…have been established in the UK and attempted to forge collaborative responses involving companies, civil society and labour unions…Despite these initiatives spanning administrative, judicial and non-judicial processes, successive reviews have found that remedy remains rare and inaccessible to those harmed by UK companies operating overseas…

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Article
2 December 2016

The Complaints System of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO)

Author: Kate Macdonald, University of Melbourne, Samantha Balaton-Chrimes, Deakin University

November 2016

The RSPO is a voluntary, multi-stakeholder organization, the main focus of which is standard setting and certification of sustainable palm oil production. The pervasive presence of disputes in the sector has meant that development of a complaints system has become an important element of the RSPO’s overall regulatory system. The central decision making body within the RSPO Complaints System is the Complaints Panel…Complaints regarding certification processes are referred…to the relevant accreditation or certification body…With regard to individual remedy, there have been significant gaps in the RSPO’s capacity to facilitate the successful resolution of individual disputes…Nonetheless, there is evidence that RSPO processes have sometimes contributed to the management of complex disputes, via indirect effects on communication between disputing parties…The RSPO’s performance has been further limited by its weak capacity to perform important functions such as community outreach…There have also been weak provisions for, and practical use of, enforcement mechanisms…

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Article
2 December 2016

The Compliance Advisor Ombudsman for IFC/MIGA

Author: Samantha Balaton-Chrimes, Deakin University & Kate Macdonald, University of Melbourne

November 2016

The Office of the Compliance Advisor Ombudsman (CAO)…is available to receive complaints regarding any project in which IFC or MIGA has financial involvement, provided there is a demonstrable connection to affected people…The CAO has three separate functions:

Ombudsman/Dispute Resolution: a problem-solving…function…

Compliance: conducts…investigations of IFC / MIGA’s own decision making

Advisor: provides advice to the IFC and MIGA about their policies…

This report draws on qualitative case studies of complaints made to the CAO about Wilmar…PT Weda Bay Nickel…and a group of Indian tea companies. Overall, the CAO ultimately made little tangible difference to human rights outcomes in these cases. This is partly attributable to factors outside the CAO’s mandate…but also to operational decisions…This suggests there is some potential for the CAO to make a greater contribution to human rights remedy…CAO could become more effective at providing human rights remedy…if some changes are made to the its operations in line with the lessons raised in this report…

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Article
2 December 2016

The Ethical Trading Initiative: Negotiated solutions to human rights violations in global supply chains?

Author: Tim Connor, University of Newcastle, Annie Delaney, RMIT University & Sarah Rennie, Melbourne University

November 2016

The Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI) is a UK-based multi-stakeholder initiative…that focuses on improving working conditions within business supply chains…The ETI has a number of processes for responding to alleged breaches of the human rights set out in its code of conduct…Our research indicated that, with some notable exceptions, these processes have demonstrated very limited effectiveness in facilitating effective redress…[W]hy…? It is important to note that there are complicated and highly unbalanced power relationships in each of the various spheres that the ETI must influence in order to facilitate effective redress…There are also complex and unbalanced power relationships within the ETI itself…Further, arguably just by joining the ETI a company acquires a valuable shield against public criticism of its labour practices, since it can claim that it is working with well-respected civil society organisations to address human rights issues…The report also highlights factors external to the ETI that are currently undermining its effectiveness.

[Also refers to Asda, Burberry, C&A, Gap, Inditex, Marks & Spencer, Mothercare, Sainsbury's and Tesco.]

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