Corporate Accountability

The Problem

Corporations across the globe are increasingly gaining more rights, yet have fewer and fewer responsibilities. We challenge the systems that allow corporations to exercise power and claim rights without accountability.

ERI’s Solution

We focus on major global actors, such as Chinese oversea investors and financiers, as well as emerging financial powers. Increased autonomy allows these emerging financial powers to invest precariously in developing countries and communities are at risk. The weak rule of law in many these countries allows corporations to operate freely and destructively, exploiting vulnerable communities without fear of impunity. The human cost of this lack of accountability is unacceptable.

We confront current systems of destructive development and exploitation and encourage structures that operate according to principles of human rights, environmental protection and justice.

Corporate Accountability Coalition

Every year, as part of the Corporate Accountability Coalition, we publish the Congressional Report Card on corporate accountability. Other Coalition members include the Center for Corporate Policy, Corporate Accountability International, CorpWatch, and the International Corporate Accountability Roundtable. The publication represents an effort to measure Congress’ commitment to keep the power of large corporations in check, to promote transparency and responsible business practices, and to hold corporations accountable for their actions.

Corporations are an important part of modern life and the modern economy, but their interests do not always represent the interests of living, breathing, human beings. This Report Card attempts to serve as an objective measure of Congressional efforts to ensure that protecting people, not corporations, is the primary focus of our laws and policy.

Publish What you Pay

Publish What You Pay (PWYP) is a global civil society coalition that helps citizens of resource-rich developing countries hold their governments accountable for the management of revenues from the oil, gas and mining industries. Natural resource revenues are an important source of income for governments of over 50 developing countries. When properly managed these revenues should serve as a basis for poverty reduction, economic growth and development rather than exacerbating corruption, conflict and social divisiveness.

Campaigns and Cases

American Petroleum Institute v. SEC v. Oxfam (United States)

When oil industry group American Petroleum Institute challenged U.S. regulations that would require disclosure of their payments to foreign governments, ERI represented Oxfam America to help defend the regulations.

Asian Regional Investment (Mekong Region/Myanmar/China)

ERI calls for transparency and accountability for Thai outbound investment and domestic investment. We work with a Thai coalition called Extraterritorial Obligation Watch (Thai ETO-Watch) and with communities to engage Chinese and Japanese investors.

Barrick (Papua New Guinea/Canada/United States)

We represented dozens of women living near the Barrick mine in Porgera, Papua New Guinea, who had been brutally raped by the mine’s security guards.

Bowoto v. Chevron (Nigeria/United States)

We sued Chevron in California for its complicity in murder and torture in Nigeria.

Budha Ismail Jam et al v. IFC (India/United States)

Fishing communities and farmers in Gujarat, India, filed suit against the International Finance Corporation, the private lending arm of the World Bank, for its role in funding a destructive coal power plant project that has affected the health and livelihoods of the communities.

Chadín 2 Hydroelectric Power Project

Peruvian communities filed a reuqest for constitutional protection for earth rights defenders affected by the Chadin 2 Hydroelectric Power Project.

Community-Driven Operational Grievance Mechanism (CD-OGM) (Myanmar/Global)

ERI partners with populations affected by development projects to create their own, new channels of communication with corporations, facilitating access to remedies that are specific to their contexts and needs.

Doe v. Chiquita Bananas International (Colombia/United States)

We filed a class action lawsuit accusing Chiquita of financing torture, war crimes, and other human rights abuses. Chiquita made regular monthly payments to security forces controlled by a brutal paramilitary organization known for mass killing. This organization, the United Self-Defense Groups of Colombia, was designated as a terrorist organization by the U.S. Government.

Don Sahong Dam (Cambodia)

This dam, which is currently  under construction on the Mekong River, threatens local livelihoods, food security, and environments, ERI has worked with impacted communities to assert their rights through a complaint to the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (SUHAKAM).

Environmental Impact Assessments (Mekong/Myanmar)

We are working directly to strengthen communities, campaigners and lawyers by organizing opportunities for them to understand and design their own campaigns around Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) processes in the Mekong region and Myanmar.

Hongsa Coal Power Plant and Mine (Laos)

ERI works with researchers to monitor the health and environmental impacts of this project, and with a network of Thai organizations (Extraterritorial Obligations Watch  or Thai ETO-Watch) to track this and other Thai investments in the region.

Juana Doe et al v. IFC (Honduras/United States)

Honduran farmers took the International Finance Corporation, the private lending arm of the World Bank, to court for complicity in human rights violations.

Kiobel v. Cravath, Swaine & Moore, LLP (The Netherlands/Nigeria/United States)

We filed a Foreign Legal Assistance action to help Esther Kiobel gain access to documents to support her case against Shell in the Netherlands, where the company is headquartered. Ms. Kiobel’s husband, Dr. Barinem Kiobel, was murdered in Nigeria in 1995 after speaking out against Shell’s oil operations in the region.

Koh Kong Sugar Plantation (Cambodia)

In Koh Kong, Cambodia, violent land grabs associated with a sugar plantation have claimed over 10,000 hectares and pushed 500 families off of their land. ERI has worked with the impacted communities to advocate for their rights through judicial and non-judicial mechanisms.

Maxima Acuña-Atalaya v. Newmont Mining Corp. (Peru/United States)

A family of subsistence farmers living in the highlands of Peru took U.S.-based mining company Newmont to court. Since 2011, Newmont’s agents have threatened and harassed the family in an attempt to remove the Chaupe family from their land in an attempt to expand mining operations.

Nicotex Chemical Waste (Vietnam)

After 20,000 people were impacted by industrial waste dumped by Vietnamese pesticide firm Nicotex Thanh Thai JSC, ERI worked to promote local communities’ leadership in demanding access to information and remedies for rights violations.

Oxfam America v. Securities and Exchange Commission (United States)

After the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) failed to meet its deadline to draft new transparency regulations, we filed suit against the SEC on behalf of Oxfam America.

Sahu v. Union Carbide (India/United States)

Residents of Bhopal, India, sued Union Carbide, seeking accountability and for the company to clean up the the site after a toxic gas leak killed thousands of people in 1984.

Shwe Gas Project (Myanmar)

This Korean and Indian-backed natural gas project connecting the Bay of Bengal to Yunnan, China has has lead to forced relocation, forced labor, destruction of livelihoods, and abuses committed by Myanmar Army battalions. ERI supports communities along the pipeline route and continues to monitor environmental laws and corporate accountability in Myanmar.

Special Economic Zones (Myanmar)

ERI supports communities in Myanmar’s three SEZs – Dawei, Thilawa and Kyauk Phyu – to raise concerns about these development projects and to speak out against what they see as land grabs, abuse and exploitation on the part of investors and project managers.

Wiwa v. Royal Dutch Shell (Nigeria/United States)

After nine Ogoni activists in Nigeria were murdered for speaking out against Shell’s oil operations in the region, the surviving family members of those killed filed suit against Shell, seeking accountability.

Xayaburi Dam (Laos)

This dam, under construction on the mainstream of the Mekong River, threatens the livelihoods and environments of communities across the river basin. ERI works with communities affected by the project to amplify their voices and support their organizing efforts.