The Homa – Human Rights and Business Centre was created in 2012 with the support of the Ford Foundation, in Brazil. This initiative is based on the recognition of the existence of an academic field, still not properly exploited, for the production of qualified knowledge about the most difficult and relevant aspects involving the violation of Human Rights by Companies, especially the difficulty of achieving mechanisms for both prevention and accountability of corporations for the violation of such rights.
It is undeniable that companies, especially TNCs have played a substantial role in regards to the conduct of ventures in various territories. However, what is observed is that the very logic of the implementation of these ventures relies on the flexibility of the rights protection norms and fundamental guarantees existing in the States. The weakening of these protections, in turn, generates the prevalence of business interests, overlapping the traditional way of life of the occupying populations of the territories where the companies are established.
In addition, these companies can now be found, more broadly, as actors capable of guiding the logic of investment and the model of development to be implemented by the State, distancing them, in certain situations, from the public’s interest. Such dynamic is aggravated when transnational companies have economic power, and therefore, a political power which is greater than the institutional capacity of the public administration itself. These determinations, which embrace the post-globalization logic of capital, cause States to act in partnership with companies in some situations, if not formally, but in complicity with them, supporting ventures that intrinsically violate human rights.
We observe, therefore, what we might call an existing deficit between the ability of companies to incur in social/territorial reality and the limits imposed by the State to the possibility of human rights violations that might be committed in this process. Moreover, even after the diagnosis of these violations (what we would call enterprise architecture), which can be used today in a way that modifies the business design countless times, and the addition of some figures of international law and the definition of territorial jurisdiction, it all makes corporate accountability become much more difficult.
Thus, the Homa – Human Rights and Business Centre seeks to publicize studies in partnership with other academic institutions as well as sectors of the civil society and the State itself. These works are done in addition to a closer approximation of the reality and testimony of the victims of human rights violations themselves, seeking to make the mechanisms of corporate accountability for Human Rights violations more efficient. In this way, we launched the first International Journal on Human Rights and Business, which launched the first edition of its second volume in 2018.
Therefore, the Centre develops many fronts: studies on Business Law; identification of judicial and non-judicial mechanisms capable of giving greater effectiveness to the accountability of companies for human rights violations; case studies on human rights violations by companies; monitoring the implementation of the guidelines of the United Nations and the possibility, from the 26th session of the Human Rights Council, in 2014, of negotiating a binding treaty in this matter, besides keeping a critical look into the elaboration of the National Action Plans.
Above all, HOMA wants to transform itself into a space for the exchange of knowledge, recognizing its production from different actors, such as social movements, nongovernmental organizations, the public power and other academic centers, which can broaden the understanding and sedimentation of this field of knowledge, still incipient in the world, and especially in Brazil, titled “Business and Human Rights”.