Homa releases report on the Açu Port case, located in the state of Rio de janeiro

Latin America is under a process of expansion of the mining and metallurgical sector, particularly Brazil, which placed second among the largest exporters of iron ore in the world in 2013. The economic dependence of the region in relation to this activity is alarming and subject to the vulnerabilities of high and low cycles in commodity prices, which generate structural crisis in the sector.

The 2003-2013 period represented a megacycle of commodities, under which the global im- ports of ores increased 630% (US$ 38 billion to US$ 277 billion). Over these years, the economic reliance of Brazil in export, mainly, of iron ore has deepened. Large-scale projects with government support in an attempt of boosting the economy were also carried out.

The project of the Açu Mine-Port is part of this logic, its original idea dating back from 1999, as an ambition of the government of the State of Rio de Janeiro, represented by former governor Anthony Garotinho. His government was succeeded by his wife Rosinha Garotinho, who continued the project, which has always been defended as of public interest. Through private meetings, there was the association of project with Eliezer Batista, who passed it along to his son, Eike Batista. From then, a complex system of business relations begins to unfold, making the accountability of those involved, in addition to the understanding of the case more difficult, but regardless, a problem that must be faced.

Home releases report of the IV Annual United Nations Forum on Business and Human Rights

Between the16th and the 18th of November the IV United Nations Annual Forum on Business and Human Rights took place in the Palais des Nations, Geneva, and gathered over two thousand people to establish discussions from different perspectives about the International Agenda on Business and Human Rights.

Homa – Human Rights and Business Centre of the Federal University of Juiz de Fora – organized a panel on the first day of the event alongside international institutions, in partnership with professors Surya Deva (City University of Hong Kong), Sheldon Leader (University of Essex) and Bonita Meyersfeld (University of Witwatersrand).

Homa launches first of a series of papers about National Action Plans on Business and Human Rights

Starting in 2015, September, The investigations for development of a series of papers about the National Action Plans on Business and Human Rights were motivated by the apparent  need for a critical academic follow up of the process of elaboration of a NAP in Brazil, which is still in an early stage. This series aims to contribute with the players involved in this process, that’s why it was named “National Action Plans on Human Rights and Business: Inputs for the Brazilian Reality”.

According to the theoretical perspective of Homa, it was decided to place “Human Rights” before “Business” in the series’ title since we believe  that these plans should be developed by putting the Human Rights dimension first, rather than business and market demands. According to this perspective, we understand  that “theory is always directed to someone, with a specific purpose”. Therefore, it should be dealt with including the ideology it carries within. Thus, the Centre looks forward to conduct critical research, in order to provide an analysis about the social practices with potential for contributing to the reality’s transformation.

This first part’s title is “General Perspectives about National Action Plans on Business and Human Rights”, and its goal is to bring forth a general approach to the released NAPs, highlighting some problems and critics, aiming at the elaboration of a more objective instrument, capable of producing measurable, rateable and concrete results, gathering the civil society, social movements and victims of Human Rights violations.

The full content of the document is available in Portuguese, Spanish and English:

  

Registration for the III International Seminar on Human Rights and Business is now open

The III International Seminar on Human Rights and Business is part of a series of events that have been organized in recent years by Homa – Centre for Human Rights and Business of the Federal University of Juiz de Fora – Brazil. This event will take place in the city of Rio de Janeiro – Brazil, from 27 to 29 April, 2016, aiming to bring together national and international leaders and experts in the field, social movement activists, NGOs, trade union movements and other social players involved in the process of protection and defense of human rights in the context of violations by companies.

The third seminar is sponsored by the Ford Foundation and has the support and partnership of the Federal University of Juiz de Fora, the Center for Human Rights at PUC-Rio and the Friedrich Ebert Foundation. Registration is free, but the number of participants is limited, so make sure to register as soon as possible!

Relevant issues in the current scenario of debates on Human Rights and Business will be discussed, such as:

  • The Process of development of an international binding instrument on Business and Human Rights,
  • Development and international consulting process of the Peoples’ Treaty;
  • The implementation of the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights in Brazil: Critical Perspectives
  • The impact of mining and violations of Human rights;
  • Processes of resistance and handling mechanisms of human rights violations in its different dimensions;
  • Public Funding and Large Enterprises

The following international speakers have been confirmed:

  • Prof. Juan Zubizarreta – University of the Basque Country – OMAL (Spain)
  • Prof. Surya Deva – City University of Hong Kong (Hong Kong – China)
  • Prof. Sheldon Leader – University of Essex (United Kingdom)
  • Carlos Lopez – International Commission of Jurists (Geneva)
  • Alberto Villarreal – REDES (Uruguay)

Click here to register.

Items for presentation in working groups’ communication format will not be accepted, but papers, case studies and critical reviews are welcome for publication in Homa Publica – International Journal of Human Rights and Business, to be released during the third seminar. The call for papers can be found here. All participants are invited to submit their work to the Journal, and we emphasize that these will undergo double blind peer review.

For further information on other confirmed and to be confirmed speakers, event schedule, accommodation suggestions, and contact, please visit the event website: http://homacdhe.com/iii-seminar/en/home/

 

About Homa

Created in February 2012 and running with support from the Ford Foundation since its establishment, Homa is an academic centre that aims to develop research in the area of Human Rights and Business, always seeking to contribute to the protection and defense of human rights, which is why these always come before “business” on the Centre’s name.

Currently, Homa is divided into three core research lines:

  • Global Agenda on Human Rights and Business: Analyzes the application and implementation of the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and the Process of development of an International Binding Instrument on Human Rights and Business;
  • Public Funding and Large Enterprises: Analyzes public funding for large companies and enterprises that violate Human Rights and the responsibility of the funding entities for such violations;
  • Mechanisms of confrontation against Human Rights Violations by Companies: Investigates specific cases of human rights violations by companies in Brazil; Researches collaborative tools of judicial resistance for victims of human rights violations by companies in Brazil.

Call for Papers – Homa Publica – International Journal of Human Rights and Business

Homa – Centre for Human Rights and Business has the honor of announcing the release of “Homa Publica – International Journal on Human Rights and Business”, the first specific Journal on the theme in Brazil, with the goal to contribute to the construction of this academic field, and to encourage the publishing of works of Brazilian and international researchers.

The journal is continuously open for submissions of works, papers, case studies and book reviews about any subject directly or indirectly related, to the academic field of Human Rights and Business.

Suggestions of directly and indirectly themes related to Human Rights and Business (non-exhaustive list) are shown below:

  • International Agenda on Human Rights and Business (Process of elaboration of an international biding instrument on Human Rights and Business; Supervision of the implementation of the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights; Supervision of the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights activities; People’s Treaty; Civil Society’s International Articulation on the theme; Human Rights and Business and International systems for protection of Human Rights);
  • Public Funding and Large Enterprises (Financing policy of the BNDES and other development banks, Public-Private Partnerships, financial entities responsible for Human Rights violations)
  • Concrete cases of Human Rights violations by companies worldwide and in Brazil;
  • Human Rights, Business and Gender, Race and Sexuality issues;
  • Social Movements and Human Rights violations;
  • Critical Theory of Human Rights;
  • Judicial and Extrajudicial mechanisms of business accountability for human rights violations

Works of all fields of knowledge will be accepted, with no limit to the number of authors per work. Works from undergraduates, graduates, masters, will be accepted as long as co-authored with Doctors. For individual works, Doctorate level is required.

The first edition is to be released in June/July 2016. For publication in this first issue, works must be submitted until April 10th, 2016.

For our Editorial Policy please check: homacdhe.com/journal

Homa releases report of the meeting with the UN Working Group in Mariana, MG

The Working Group of the United Nations (UN) on Human Rights and Transnational Corporations and Other Business Enterprises had, on a visit to Mariana, the goal of hearing the testimony of people affected by the collapse of Samarco Mining Company’s Fundão Dam. The tailings from Vale Mining Company (Vale) joint venture with the Anglo-Australian BHP Billiton (BHP Billiton) mine were released in the environment on November 5th, 2015, leading to Brazil’s greatest environmental disaster, making this a mandatory topic on the field of Human Rights and Business.

To see the full content of the report can be found here (English) and here (Portuguese).

Homa releases first of a series of papers as a contribution to the discussion of a binding treaty on Business and Human Rights

The potential drafting of a binding Treaty on Business and Human Rights raises some unclear issues both to the academy and to civil society. Aiming to contribute to the discussion on the theme in a national level, Homa is presenting a series of papers with brief comments about some of the most relevant points. The full content of the first paper, called “Treaty on Human Rights and Business: Two Major Issues” can be found on the links below, in English, Portuguese and Spanish versions:

Homa and other Brazilian civil society organizations release open letter for the UN Working Group on Human Rights and Transnational Corporations, with recommendations for the group’s next visit to Brazil.

The Working Group on Human Rights and Transnational Corporations and other Business Enterprises was created in 2012, after the end of the mandate of the Special Representative of the UN Secretary General for Human Rights and Transnational Corporations and Other Business, John Ruggie, and aims to promote the implementation of the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, published by Ruggie in 2011.

One of the Working Group’s task is to carry out visits to the Member States to report situations such as human rights violations by companies and any progress in human rights protection mechanisms in these States.

The Working Group is visiting Brazil between December 07th and 17th, and its schedule includes the following cities: Brasília, São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Belo Horizonte, Altamira and Belém.

Despite appeals and orientation from various organizations and social movements of Brazilian civil society, the group is not yet scheduled to visit the Municipality of Mariana – MG, where a severe disaster (Environmental offense) caused by the breaking of a dam owned by Samarco (Vale S/A and BHP Billiton affiliate) has occurred.

The full content of the letter can be found, in Portuguese and English, in the links below:

Letter to the UN Working Group on Human Rights and Transnational Corporations – Portuguese Version

Letter to the UN Working Group on Human Rights and Transnational Corporations – English Version

The list of subscribing organizations includes:

Homa – Projeto Direitos Humanos e Empresas – Universidade Federal de Juiz de Fora – Faculdade de Direito, Associação Brasileira Interdisciplinar de AIDS (ABIA), Conectas Direitos Humanos, Federação de Órgãos para Assistência Social e Educacional (FASE), Federação Nacional dos Trabalhadores na Agricultura Familiar (FETRAF), Fórum de Trabalhadores por Verdade, Justiça e Reparação, Fórum da Amazonia Oriental (FAOR), Grupo de Trabalho sobre Propriedade Intelectual (GTPI), Instituto Brasileiro de Análises Sociais e Econômicas (IBASE), Instituto de Estudos Socioeconômicos (Inesc), Instituto Políticas Alternativas para o Cone Sul (PAcs), Instituto Equit, Internacional dos Serviços Públicos Brasil, Justiça Global, Movimento dos Atingidos por Barragens (MAB), Rede Brasileira pela Integração dos Povos (Rebrip), Rede Social de Justiça e Direitos Humanos, Serviço Interfranciscano de Justiça Paz e Ecologia (Sinfrajue) e Terra de Direitos

Homa organizes panel at the IV annual United Nations Forum on Business and Human Rights in Geneva

Between 16th and 18th November, 2015, The Fourth Annual United Nations Forum on Business and Human Rights will take place in Geneva, and Homa – Human Rights and Business Centre of the Federal University of Juiz de Fora – Brazil – will organize a panel along with other universities from various countries and regions.

The panel is entitled: “Cooperation through Education, Research and Dialogue – The Role of Academic Institutions as multipliers of the Global Agenda on Business and Human Rights”, featuring the following scholars and institutions:

  • Manoela Carneiro Roland – HOMA – Human Rights and Business Center of the Federal University of Juiz de Fora (Brazil);
  • Björn Fasterling and Karin Buhmann – BHRIGHT Network, here Represented by Copenhagen Business School (Denmark), EDHEC Business School (France) and the University of Seville (Spain);
  • Sheldon Leader – EBHR – Business and Human Rights Project of the University of Essex (UK);
  • Bonita Meyersfeld – CALS – Centre for Applied Legal Studies of University of the Witwatersrand (South Africa);
  • Surya Deva – School of Law, City University of Hong Kong (China);
  • Françoise Guichard – E-dh – Entreprises pour Les Droits de l’Homme (France);
  • Joanne  Bauer- Teaching Business & Human Rights Forum / Columbia University (USA).

The panel will take place on 16 November in Room XII United Nations Headquarters in Geneva, starting at 10 am. Click here for the concept note of this action, and here for the Forum programme outline.

Communities Affected by Vale mining company publish political statement, produced in its V International Meeting held in Minas Gerais between 13 and 14 August.

Letter from Ouro Preto

Political document of the 5th International Meeting of People Affected by Vale – Minas Gerais , Brazil, August 13-15, 2015

We, traditional communities, social and environmental movements, trade unions and civil society organizations of Brazil and the world, members of the International Articulation of People Affected by Vale, have gathered for our 5thInternational Meeting after traveling in caravans to visit territories affected by the company in the states of Pará, Rio de Janeiro and Minas Gerais, in Brazil.

Along the way, we witnessed cases of rights violations committed by Vale. In Pará state, we visited the Indigenous Land “Mãe Maria” (Mother Mary), where the Akrãtikatêjê people are suffering from the violation of their territorial rights. In Canaã dos Carajás , we met with two groups of peasant farmers living in encampments at Grotão de Mutum and Planalto Serra Dourada.  They are fighting for the return of their land which was appropriated by Vale.  In Parauapebas,  Vale workers are victims of anti-union practices and suffer from accidents, mutilations and diseases associated with poor working conditions. As well we met farmers in the Palmares settlement who oppose the economic model imposed by Vale in the region. In Marabá, the communities of Alzira Mutran and KM 07 suffer from Vale’s lack of respect for their right to adequate housing.

In Minas Gerais state, Vale’s project in Serra da Gandarela threatens to deprive access to and contaminate the water sources of entire communities. Moreover,  the daily effects of air and water pollution are already being felt in the communities of Morro da Água Quente, Catas Altas, Pires and Plataforma, all in the state of Minas Gerais) and in Santa Cruz, in Rio de Janeiro state. This struggle for water, in fact, unites all the women and men affected by Vale. The reports to the meeting from representatives of affected communities in Piura and Cajamarca (Peru), Tete and Nacala Corridor (Mozambique), Mendoza (Argentina), Colombia and Canada confirmed that this same pattern of rights violations by Vale to be found in different states of Brazil is prevalent all around the world.

The nation states in the countries where Vale operates are complicit in these violations being carried out by the company.  This is especially true for the Brazilian state which holds shares in the company and also finances the company’s operations with public funds through subsidies from BNDES (National Bank for Economic and Social Development).  Signing agreements and conventions between Vale and various states to promote megaprojects of economic development at the expense of workers’ and communities’ rights contributes to the perpetuation of social inequalities. Access to land is a case in point.  Vale uses the economic crisis as a pretext for demanding sacrifices of previously acquired rights.  We also condemn Vale’s practice of tax evasion, its failure to comply with environmental licensing processes and, above all, its criminalization of the men and women who defend human rights and give leadership in actions of resistance.

We denounce the deterioration of working conditions and the constant worsening of living standards for Vale workers. This reality, that kills, maims and enrages  thousands of workers each year, is an attack by Vale on the only means that many of these workers have to make a living: the sale, every day more depreciated, of their labour power. The elderly, the women, the workers, the communities, and the children are particularly affected by Vale: they are the memory, the support and the future of our communities and struggles.

Environmental racism is another facet of how Vale operates.   Black populations and Indigenous peoples suffer disproportionately from the impacts in the regions where the company operates. On the third anniversary of the Marikana massacre in South Africa, we reaffirm our solidarity with the families of the workers who lost their lives at Lonmin mining company and their co-workers.

We, traditional communities, environmental movements, trade unions, social organizations, act to defend life; we organize, inform and train ourselves. We pay attention to Vale’s constant human rights violations and plunder of natural resources. Neither the company nor our respective governments want us to organize; they seek to divide and rule. The company policies of corporate social responsibility and sustainability, the espionage and criminality practiced by Vale are intended to dismantle the struggles of communities and workers, to make their resistance invisible.  United, however, we are stronger. The crisis of the company is not a real crisis, but only a strategy to maximize its profits through increased working hours for its employees and expansion of its operations, further increasing their impact. We will not be silenced, because the growth of Vale violates our rights.   We are rising up against it.

Fighting back is not a crime! We demand our rights!

 

Source: Atingidos e Atingidas pela Vale