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CORE Coalition - Autumn Newsletter - September 2016
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Welcome to the latest edition of our newsletter. Read on for details of opportunities with CORE, recent publications and latest policy developments. 

Job opportunity: Advocacy and Communications Manager

CORE is seeking an Advocacy and Communications Manager to develop and deliver an integrated strategy for specific strands of our work on corporate accountability. This is a fantastic opportunity to work for a successful coalition whose partners include Amnesty International UK, Anti-Slavery International, CAFOD, Christian Aid, ShareAction, Traidcraft, Unicef UK and WWF UK. You’ll need professional experience of developing and implementing joint advocacy strategies and outstanding written and verbal communication skills.
 
Deadline for applications: 11 September 2016.
 
For more information, see http://corporate-responsibility.org/get-involved/

Consultancy: Implications of the UK Referendum on EU membership for corporate accountability work in the UK

We are seeking suitably qualified consultants to research and write a briefing paper on this topic. Applicants will be expected to have expert knowledge of relevant EU and UK laws, policies and regulations, and of the current UK political context.
 
Deadline for applications: 16 September 2016.
 
For more information, see http://corporate-responsibility.org/get-involved/

New guide: Legal action in England to hold companies to account

CORE and London Mining Network have launched guidance to help communities, workers, and civil society organisations understand the process of using legal action in England to hold UK companies to account for harming people in other countries. The guide is also available in Spanish.

At a workshop on the Phulbari case that CORE, London Mining Network and Global Justice Now convened last year, activists explained that communities sometimes hesitate to contact UK lawyers because they are unsure whether UK legal action could be an option for them. 

The guide addresses this by providing an overview of the general situations in which legal action in England against UK companies could be possible, the potential outcomes and a summary of the process. It was developed with assistance from Chris Esdaile at Leigh Day. A directory of business and human rights lawyers in the UK is available at Business and Human Rights Resource Centre’s corporate legal accountability hub

Please contact us if you have any comments or questions about the guide.

Parliamentarians probe government action on business and human rights

In June the Joint Committee on Human Rights announced a new inquiry into human rights and business.

The inquiry is looking at the government’s progress on implementing the UNGPs through its National Action Plan (NAP), published in 2013 and updated in May 2016. This follows an earlier JCHR inquiry into business and human rights conducted in 2009.

CORE’s Executive Director Marilyn Croser, Peter Frankental, Economic Relations Programme Director at Amnesty International UK  and John Morrison, Chief Executive of the Institute for Human Rights and Business gave evidence to the committee on 20 July.

All three witnesses emphasised that the UK needs to do more if it wants to be seen as a leader on business and human rights.

In response to questions about the supply chain reporting requirement in the Modern Slavery Act, Marilyn Croser called on the government to publish a list of companies covered by the law, pointing out that without this, it is impossible to know which businesses are required to comply.

Government spending accounts for 3% of GDP, so integrating human rights into public procurement offers an immediate opportunity for action, but as Peter Frankental explained, the government has issued policy discouraging ‘boycotts’, which could deter public authorities from not entering into contracts with companies on human rights grounds.

Following further hearings in Autumn, the Committee will publish a report of its findings, with recommendations for the UK government. 

Modern Slavery Act - first free and open registry makes 540 company statements available

Business & Human Rights Resource Centre has released its enhanced registry of statements made by companies under the UK Modern Slavery Act. The registry now contains over 540 statements found as the first deadline approaches for companies to report under the Act.

UK Prime Minister Theresa May recently described modern slavery as "the great human rights issue of our time". First analysis of the 540 statements shows that many do not meet even the minimum requirements of the Act. The vast majority of the statements are not signed by a company director (or equivalent) and are not available from the company's website homepage, both basic requirements of the legislation. These concerns were initially raised by CORE and Business & Human Rights Resource Centre earlier this year. 

CORE and our partner organisations published guidance for companies on reporting under the Act in February. The new registry allows comparison and bench-marking of companies' policy and practice to generate a race to the top among companies; allows investors to assess company risks; and helps consumers and activists to reward leading companies and press laggards to take action. 

Companies wishing to submit a statement to the registry should contact Patricia Carrier at Business & Human Rights Resource Centre.

UN committee calls on UK to adopt laws on corporate liability for human rights abuses in projects abroad

The UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights has called on the UK to adopt legislation to make companies liable for human rights violations in their projects abroad, in its recent review of the UK’s sixth periodic report.

In previous reviews, UN human rights treaty bodies have called on states to monitor the actions of private actors operating abroad. This is thought to be the first time a recommendation has been made for legal liability of companies.

The Committee welcomed the adoption of the Modern Slavery Act 2015 and the National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights, but expressed concern about the lack of a regulatory framework to ensure companies operating in the UK and those domiciled under its jurisdiction with operations overseas respect economic, social and cultural rights.

The Committee called on the UK to adopt legislation to ensure the legal liability of companies under the UK’s jurisdiction for violations of human rights in their projects abroad committed directly by the companies or as a result of their subsidiaries’ activities. These recommendations are not legally binding, however, they reflect the concerns of an expert body on the impact of business on economic, social and cultural rights. Failure to implement the recommendations would lead to questions about the UK's commitment to its international human rights obligations.  

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