Corporations admit that they need systems to ensure that their practices meet human rights and environmental standards. But too often, companies try to create and monitor these systems themselves.
Corporations set up Operational Grievance Mechanisms (OGMs) to handle complaints of abuse or wrongdoing from workers, community members, and other stakeholders affected by a project. However, these OGMs often work in a way that reflects the significant power imbalances between corporations and communities, and they do little to counteract this inequality. OGMs frequently fail to prevent human rights abuses or to provide adequate remedies. They don’t put power back into the hands of the communities that are harmed by corporations’ misconduct.
One solution is the new model of the Community-Driven Operational Grievance Mechanism (CD-OGM). EarthRights is partnering with a number of populations affected by development projects to create their own new channels of communication specific to their contexts and needs. The goal is for communities to establish their own mechanisms to make their voices heard. If land and resources belong to a people, it’s up to those people to define their terms of engagement with a company that wants to do business in their area. It’s up to the community, not the corporation, to decide what accountability, prior consultation, and just compensation look like. EarthRights conducts workshops to build this new strategy for corporate accountability. These CD-OGM workshops focus on three main areas: technical design, education and outreach, and advocacy strategies.
Technical CD-OGM design
These workshops focus on the individual technical steps in an OGM. The villagers decide how they want to file complaints, what they want the investigation process to be, what the appeals process should be, and who they want to perform each role.
Education and outreach
These workshops help develop an outreach plan to ensure that the design reflects the voices of the broader community. They provide guidance on how to reach stakeholders, how to communicate concerns, and how to ensure that the CD-OGM is inclusive and accessible to everyone, especially marginalized groups.
These workshops look at different aspects of developing an advocacy plan, from deciding on the type and extent of stakeholder engagement to identifying relevant stakeholders, assessing leverage points, and using negotiating skills.
Within each of these, we present examples, pros and cons, and case studies. Workshops raise a number of discussion questions for the villagers to think through to determine which options will help them in their particular situation and develop the tools to put them in place. At the villagers’ request, EarthRights also assists with other advocacy efforts, attending meetings with project stakeholders and providing support for their advocacy plans.