In 2018, the SAGE Fund supported a round of grants piloting enforcement strategies to ensure full implementation of landmark legal decisions in key corporate accountability cases: strengthening protection for affected communities, ensuring court-ordered remedy and building accountability for economic actors. Despite the internationally protected right to effective remedy, victims and communities negatively impacted by investment and business operations rarely obtain it. The obstacles to securing legal remedy are well-known – including corruption, fear of persecution, lack of resources and legal standing, but even if affected individuals manage to secure a favorable judgement despite these obstacles, companies and governments routinely evade compliance. This lack of implementation of court decisions can leave communities to languish for years without redress and with harms to livelihoods, health and the environment unabated.
The 2018 SAGE grants will pilot new strategies to break through barriers to enforcement in key legal decisions, designing robust and layered enforcement strategies, employing a mix of transnational advocacy, campaigning, participation and monitoring, non-judicial mechanisms, and other approaches, in creative and integrated ways to finally secure the legal remedies the courts have mandated. The six projects include:
Palm Oil Plantations, Peru
The project seeks to enforce an order to halt palm oil companies from conducting large-scale illegal deforestation and land grabs in the Peruvian Amazon, so that national policy and legal reforms defending indigenous land tenure can advance. With FECONAU driving the strategy from the ground up, IDL and its partners will employ a powerful interplay between judicial and non-judicial interventions to apply pressure across the corporate supply chain to curb land acquisitions and access information pivotal to criminal investigations of illegal deforestation. Leveraging coordinated input from affected indigenous communities, the project holds the potential to formulate national palm oil policy that protects indigenous rights, closes loopholes in national law that allow fraudulent titling, and strengthens corporate accountability in an industry with a track record of harmful impacts on communities.
Lamu Port, Kenya
Natural Justice and its partners will leverage a recent landmark judgement of the Kenyan High Court ensuring participation of affected communities in the redesign of a major infrastructure project, Lamu Port, and the mitigation of its negative health and environmental impacts and loss of livelihood for local communities. The project will co-design and pilot a robust process of public participation and a system of community monitoring to track compliance, creating a locus of enforcement between the local communities and government agencies. Building on the momentum and visibility generated by one of the most powerful rulings on environmental democracy, the project creates an opening for reshaping and expanding public participation and rights protection in major investment and infrastructure projects in the region and beyond.
Oaxaca Wind Farms, Mexico
ProDESC, in collaboration with ECCHR, seeks enforcement of two decisions of the Mexican Supreme Court and Federal Court nullifying flawed consultation processes that dispossessed indigenous peoples of their lands. With a layered strategy in Mexico pushing for development of strong consultation standards coupled with an investor advocacy strategy in Europe to leverage due diligence and accountability mechanisms, ProDESC and ECCHR hope to generate pressure on energy corporations to ensure adequate consultation. The project holds the potential to create a breakthrough by setting an important legal precedent on free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) in Mexico, and by extension to lend support for other efforts in the region to establish rights-respecting consultation processes on extractive projects.
Carajás Mining and Steel Corridor, Brazil
JnT and FIDH will press for full implementation of a Brazilian superior court judgement and resettlement agreement, providing long-sought redress for the damaging health, livelihood and environmental impacts of the pig-iron smelting operations on the community of Piquiá de Baixo. The work is comprised of monitoring government authorities to complete the resettlement, supply chain mapping and transnational advocacy targeting the Vale mining company and its corporate buyers, and using augmented reality to mobilize consumers and key constituencies in Brazil and Europe. In addition to relocating and providing compensation to the affected community, the enforcement strategy would advance remedial measures to reduce ongoing hazardous levels of industrial pollution, reducing future harms. The project pilots a model of shared responsibility between the state and corporations for remedy that other communities affected by industrial environmental hotspots could replicate. Following the recent collapse of the Brumadinho tailings dam in January 2019, Justiça nos Trilhos and FIDH are coordinating international action on behalf of communities affected by Vale’s operations, highlighting the responsibility not only of the Brazilian mining corporation but also that of its global business partners and the companies in its supply chain.
In recognition of its rigorous work in close collaboration with the affected communities under challenging conditions, Justiça nos Trilhos has recently been named the first recipient of the inaugural global Human Rights and Business Award.
Additional Enforcement Strategies Projects
The SAGE Fund is supporting two additional projects as part of this set that we are not able to release publicly yet. Once they are launched, we will share information on the projects and the enforcement strategies they are piloting.