Are corporations held accountable for their human rights violations? Yes
These journal entries discuss the content of each source and how the source has developed my thinking on corporate accountability and human rights. The question is “are corporations held accountable for their human rights violations?” This page argues that multinational corporations are held accountable for their human rights violations.
BP faces High Court trial for environmental damage in Colombia
Article: BP faces High Court trial for environmental damage in Colombia
13th October 2014
By Leigh Day (Human Rights Law Firm)
This first article is my starting point: it allows me to build upon my knowledge and thinking of corporations being held accountable for their human rights violations.
- Colombian farmers are bringing legal fight against BP to the high court in the UK. This is one of the largest environmental legal cases in UK history.
- UK courts will be asked to assess whether BP breached agreements with Colombian farmers and were negligent in causing environmental damage to the farmlands due to the construction of the OCENSA oil pipeline across their private properties in the mid 1990s.
- The 73 farmers, known as ‘campesionos’ will argue that they didn’t understand the initial contracts with BPXC (BP Colombia) and that they did not receive full or fair compensation for environmental damage.
- This comes one month after that BP were ruled “grossly negligent” in the ‘Gulf of Mexico’ disaster and cold be facing costs of $17.6bn in fines.
- The OCENSA oil pipeline was project undertaken by BP in mid 1990s in partnership wth the Colombia national oil company and four other multinational companies after BP discovered more crude oil in the Cusiana-Cupiagua oil fields
- BPXC entered into contracts with the farmers to lay the pipeline through their private land. The farmers claim the construction of the pipeline has caused:
- Severe soil erosion
- Sedimentation of lower lying fields and water sourcesàthe sedimentation of wells has left some farmers seeking alternative drinking water sources
- Reduced vegetation coverage and areas for pasture
- Blocked up vital water sources
- The court will hear claims that BPXC played a central role in the design, the implementation, the management of the projects and the construction process, and that if BPXC are liable for the damage to the campesionos’ land.
BPXC have breached their contract and the campesionos human rights by damaging their farmland. This is where commercial and personal interests of land conflict. BPXC sees the land as larger profits, where as the campesionos see the land as their home, a source of food and income, and a place of recreation as stated in the article. It’s good to see that huge companies like BPXC are being held accountable for their actions in breaching human rights, especially when those actions are in the remote corners of the world.
Settlement Involving Niger Delta Fishermen Leaves Shell More Exposed Than Ever
Article: Settlement Involving Niger Delta Fishermen Leaves Shell More Exposed Than Ever
12th January 2015
By Peter Frankental
- Shall has exposed hundreds of thousands of people to oil pollution in the Ogoniland region of the Niger Delta. The impacts of the oil pollution has caused serious health risks from the oil itself, drinking water, fisheries and contaminated air.
- The court action taken by the Niger Delta fishermen has had a greater consequence than a UN Environmental Programme (UNEP) report in 2011
- UNEP were very clear in blaming Shell and the Nigerian Government. The report’s main recommendations were for Shell to overhaul procedures for the oil spill cleanup and remediation, as well as improving on their contracting and supervision.
- Evidence given in the court case shows how Shell has ignored the UNEP recommendations, and made false claims about the impact and size of the oil spills.
- This case has revealed Shell’s attempts to defend itself from culpability from oil spills in the Delta that has affected many other communities.
- After decades of pipeline neglect, Shall has put itself in a situation where it may have to show in future court cases that it has taken adequate precautions to prevent oil spills.
- The Bodo case significant in moving us close to the truth and helping bring about accountability in the future for Shell’s actions, and other companies operating in a similar context.
- The court action against Shell was brought by Amnesty International; a non-governmental organisation focused on human rights. The Bodo case shows why Amnesty International puts such a strong emphasis on access to judiciary remedy for victims of corporate abuses.
This article and case shows that large corporations that violate others’ human rights can and need to be punished in the eyes of a court room. Organisations, like Amnesty International, are the only sought of legal tool that can bring consequences against corporate abuses because international law is either voluntary or non-binding therefore there’s no considerable backbone to the law, and even when corporations have breached international law, like the UN’s Guiding Principles, there are no consequences for the corporations to deal with.
I believe that non-governmental human rights organisations, like Amnesty International, are the only way that large multinational corporations can be brought to justice for their actions, especially with the current relevant international law.