Perhaps one of the most important decisions we make as NGOs, when engaged in an effort to bring justice to an affected community or individual, is choosing the proper advocacy forum through which to pursue such efforts. With always limited resources, both in terms of staffing and financing, we cannot pursue just any forum. Furthermore, choosing one forum usually means discarding another, making our decisions critical, especially when a poor choice results in wasted time, energy, and scarce resources on a road to no-where. Making a well informed decision from the beginning is incredibly important.

So how does one pick the forum that will bring the most in returns, which generally (but not always) implies seeking the greatest return for the affected community.

Several questions should be answered before making this decision and assigning advocacy resources to a given forum.

Firstly, it is important to start by answering some basic questions about the case specifically. It can be tempting to start by choosing the forum with which one is most familiar and attempting to force one’s case into alignment with it, however the more fruitful and efficient path is to start with some careful scrutiny of the case itself.

  1. What is the objective or outcome sought?
  2. What are the rights at stake that are presumably being violated?
  3. Does the community or affected party have the same objectives as the organization carrying forth the action?
  4. If you fail to reach your objective, is there a “Plan B”? Is there an alternative outcome that your organization or your client would be willing to accept if the primary objective is unreachable?
  5. To what extent does the organization represent the victims? Or is it acting on its own and within its own mandate? And will the public and the actors involved in the case perceive the organization as a legitimate player (particularly if it will act independently of the affected community)?
  6. Does the case have broader implications for similar advocacy elsewhere? Is this potentially a “test” or “model” case?
  7. Are there networks of other NGOs, foundations, or other actors that have similar programs, or who conduct other similar activities which would make association with such actors worthwhile?
  8. Are there specific philanthropic foundations that could provide support in advocacy around the case?

Once the above questions have been answered, one can then assess a refined list of forum choices in order to make the final selection or selections. The following questions relate to the Forum Choice:

  1. Are the violated rights codified? Perceived? Part of a Voluntary Code?
  2. What are the institutions that underpin those rights?
  3. Who is responsible for violating the rights?
    1. Is there State responsibility, complicity or responsibility by omission?
    2. Is there Corporate responsibility, complicity or responsibility?
  4. What the forums (access to justice mechanisms) exist which have the responsibility to render justice for the violation of the rights?
  5. What are the procedures to approach the identified forums?
  6. Are there grounds for a legal case in local courts? In international courts?
  7. Are there grounds for a non-legal complaint?
  8. Are there specific, listed human rights involved?
  9. What is the public perception of the case? Is there public concern over the issues involved?
  10. Is the media involved in the case or is it engaged on the issues surrounding the case?
  11. What other NGOs, academic or scientific centers, government agencies, intergovernmental agencies, or other actors might be allies in the case?
  12. Who are the main actors which will be adversaries in the case? Companies? Sector organizations? Government agencies? Intergovernmental agencies, etc?
  13. Will the action or forum choice (even if the results might be negative) move the case towards reaching the objective our outcome?

 

As we look at each of these questions and seek responses to the various issues that arise, we will begin to map out the likely opportunities, limitations, and possible outcomes that we might achieve from any one or more of the forums or channels available to choose as advocacy paths.

 

Generally, there is no silver bullet that will achieve all of the objectives or outcomes we seek. It may be that a tiered approach is necessary, seeking step by step results in a progressive or escalating manner, building on results and setbacks. A progressive advancement through stages focusing on such outcomes as: media attention, public outrage, police or judicial involvement, legal conflict, or court order, might be chosen over a long term course, rather than a specific outcome at a specific stage in a specific forum.

Perhaps a more short term objective is sought, such as raising media attention for an upcoming controversial issue (such as the construction of a large dam), or seeking fast legal action for an injunction court order to stop construction of a project that is imminent. Maybe we seek to discourage financial support by an intergovernmental agency to a given project (as we did in our Pulp Mill Case). Any one of these might be enough to focus on in a short term scenario.

These sorts of questions need to be considered as we devise an advocacy strategy. We of course must also take into consideration our own capacity, available resources, staff know-how and time availability, advocacy costs, etc. in order to properly map out our own potential to embark on the various actions that might stem from our advocacy choices.

Forum Choices in the Pulp Mill Case

Clearly one of the distinguishing characteristics of the advocacy around the Pulp Mill case was the wide variety of forums approached and utilized to seek access to justice for the affected communities. We should clarify that not all of the forums were approached by our organization, the Center for Human Rights and the Environment (CEDHA). (The last three in the following list were filed by other entities).

Forums utilized in the Pulp Mill case include:

At first sight, we might conclude that the advocacy strategy was simply an attempt to exhaust all possible forums in search of justice. This was not, however, the rationale for such a diverse set of forums.

In fact, for our organization, in addition to attempting to assist the local community with its own objective of rejecting the installation of two large pulp mills on the border river between Argentina and Uruguay, this was also a test case which provided an opportunity to advance access to justice channels at a global scale.

This case coincided with the mandate of the UN Special Representative to the Secretary General on the Issue of Human Rights and Business (from now on “SRSG”)(Professor John Ruggie) which sought to advance human rights protection in the face of corporate abuses of national and international laws related to human rights.

We felt that, while many forums existed designed to render justice, receive complaints, and showcase violations of environmental and social norms designed to protect against non-sustainable development, there existed much discrepancy and inconsistency between the norm or law and the application of the law.

We also repeatedly witnessed that the very institutions that were entrusted with protecting and upholding these norms meant to guarantee social and environmental standards, were actually working against them, or at the very least tolerating the systematic violation of these standards through the contradicting roles and objectives of their various agencies.

One forum in which such contradictions are common is that of the National Contact Points (NCPs). NCPs are government positions created by the OECD to monitor corporate compliance with, and to disseminate knowledge and understanding about, the OECD Guidelines for Human Rights for Multinational Enterprises in each member nation. Unfortunately, however, more often than not these positions, meant to act as impartial guarantors of justice, are housed within the same government offices they are tasked with monitoring, creating a conflict of interest and gravely jeopardizing the human rights justice they are meant to protect.

For example, while the State of Finland might act as a mediator of disputes between Botnia and the community of Gualeguaychú, through its National Contact Point, , another agency of the Finnish State, Finnvera (a Credit Export Agency), was actually a co-financier of the Botnia Pulp Mill in Uruguay. Further, the State was 49% owner of the chemical company Kemira, which had plans to build and operate the chemical production facility for Botnia’s Pulp Mill site in Uruguay.

These inconsistencies were but a few of the many we discovered along the way during our participation in this case, which posited serious points of contention in the choice of advocacy forum and the corresponding advocacy strategy we followed.

We envisioned early on that we could use this case to help inform the mandate of the UN Special Representative on Human Rights and Business, providing valuable cross-forum analytical opportunities in terms of how a single case could be approached by a wide variety of forums: state run, intergovernmental, corporate, or by civil society.

Furthermore in terms of viable forums for advocacy for seeking redress in this case, it was clear that no one forum could effectively address each of the issues the case presented. Some forums were useful for some of the objectives within the advocacy strategy. Others were largely useless, or even counterproductive on some counts, but more effective on others.

Perhaps one conclusion to be drawn, which goes to the critique of the standard approach to such advocacy, is that depositing all eggs in a single basket- supposing for instance, that a good complaint before the CAO, will resolve the issue- is extremely short-sighted.

As NGOs we tend to take this unfortunate approach to much of our advocacy,  often owing to a lack of know-how or experience with a more diverse set of forums. Prior to the Pulp Mill case, for instance, our organization had significant experience with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and no experience whatsoever with the Equator Principles. The former is a binding legal forum addressing human rights violations by the State, while the latter is a non-binding set of voluntary finance principles with no complaint mechanisms whatsoever. One of our staff had some knowledge of the CAO (ombudsman at the IFC) and knew the World Bank quite well.

When we approached our own legal team (mostly lawyers), their reaction and recommendation was to file a complaint against Uruguay for the violation of human rights of Argentine citizens. They suggested that nothing could be done with the Equator Principles since they were non-binding and didn’t even have a complaint mechanism. Finally, the legal team shied away from a CAO complaint, largely because at the time the CAO had relatively few cases to show, and our team had practically no knowledge of the forum. We ended up filing complaint in all three forums.

In sum, we had three or four apparent forum options to consider, and started hence, deliberating which forum to approach and with what specific strategy or complaint. We will discuss the specifics concerning these choices and how they evolved in the rest of this document.

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From a theoretical perspective, we can also think of the various forums and possible related action strategies on a linear continuum and consider the degree to which each forum renders (or fails to render) justice to victims.

In 2008, by the end of our advocacy intervention we had already given much thought to the various approaches we had taken and outcomes we had achieved (or failed to achieve) throughout the many dimensions of advocacy at each of the more than 15 forums we had approached.

We were systematically informing the UN Special Representative on Human Rights and Business of the results we were witnessing, particularly in relation to the effectiveness (or lack thereof) of the numerous access to justice forums available. At one point, we decided to develop a theoretical framework to explain our approach, and to highlight the various issues we had discovered in relation to the effectiveness of the various advocacy forums available in the field.

We identified systematic problems with many of these forums in achieving justice in the protection of rights they were meant to defend. Each held clear opportunities as well as limitations. Between the theoretical justice that each forum was designed to deliver and the actual justice it succeeded in delivering, there were evident gaps. We (and Professor John Ruggie) called these gaps, “governance gaps”.

We devised a theoretical model at that time to try to explain these “governance gaps” placing them in the context of an access to justice framework encompassing the diverse forums available to a person or community seeking advocacy, from 1 to N, where 1 is a given forum, and N is the number of forums available from which to choose. These will obviously vary according to the particularities of a case. In the Pulp Mill case, we site 13 actual forums. In the theoretical framework we offer below, we note simply 6 (“A, B, C, D, E and F”).

We approached the framework in the context of discussing human rights issues as might be affected by irresponsible corporate activity (since this was the basis of the SRSG’s mandate), but the model also holds for other types of rights that might be codified (or not) in each of the various forums.

Below is the framework, adapted to a broader analysis of rights and accountability (beyond the consideration of specific human rights):

Theoretical Framework for Forum Accountability[1]

Each accountability forum is governed by a set of norms, regulations, safeguards, guidelines, principles, national laws, international human rights or any combination of these. It is important to understand that in our task, we are concerned with upholding “rights”, and not the various standards (such as voluntary codes, safeguards, guidelines, etc.) that may be set forth in the existing forums. While these may be related to specific rights, our concern should focus on the State’s Duty to ensure accountability in the face of corporate abuse, and an individual’s capacity to defend their rights and seek remedies when they are violated. (See the UN’s “Protect, Respect, and Remedy” Framework by Professor John Ruggie.)

For the sake of defining an approach, it would probably be an unnecessary exercise to specifically name each right, treaty, declaration or other document which set out rights.

It suffices to refer to the totality of the rights, as the baseline for our discussion, irrespective of what those rights are. We will see that in fact, in each forum, the most relevant rights that the forum engages in may vary. But we can and should define our realm as delimited by the absolute totality of those rights that “could be impacted” by any corporate activity. In that respect, all rights come into play, and in as much as all rights have to be complied with, we can establish the totality of those rights as “the Rights Accountability Baseline”. This Baseline represents the absolute minimum in rights provision, but it is always possible for a corporation to rise above this line, for example, by paying its workers a wage above the minimum livable amount, or by ensuring its smoke stacks emit less than the maximum limit of an air pollutant. In principle and theory, and certainly in practice, NO corporate actor should violate any right. If they do, they would fall below this minimum baseline. Our objective, in a global system designed to protect individuals from rights violations perpetrated by corporations, should work to keep corporate activity above the baseline, but at the very least it should never be allowed to fall below it.

For the sake of explanation and analysis, we can think of the baseline as full or 100% rights compliance by corporations. Likewise, given that States are entrusted with protecting rights, States should be in full compliance with their Duty to Protect all rights potentially affected by corporations, and should hence, also be at or above that line.

In Figure 1, compliance is measured on the (y) axis, and full compliance, is indicated by the value on (y), of 100%, and is marked by the dotted line drawn at that value, which we call the Rights Accountability Baseline (RAB). The letters on the “x” axis, indicate the various forums which are available to victims of corporate abuse of rights, such as, for example, internal grievance mechanisms of private companies, local, or international courts of law, the CAO of the IFC, or the NCPs of the OECD Guidelines (points A, B, C …). Figure 1 represents an ideal world, in which the accountability value assigned to each forum is plotted along the RAB, so that each forum is in 100% compliance. The overall accountability of the system is hence, represented by the full area enclosed by the rectangle formed by the x and y Axis, and the horizontal dotted line. Ensuring that this area is in fact a full rectangle, that is, that all of the accountability forums reach the 100% accountability line, should be our objective in implementing a program to increase corporate accountability in the face of rights violations.

 

In practice however, the various accountability forums that are available to victims, as the SRSG has stated, unfortunately do not reach the 100% accountability line. Rather, they are somewhere beneath the line, close to it, or, in some cases, quite far from it. Figure 2 shows a more realistic mapping out of corporate accountability as pertinent to the various forums that exist today.

In Figure 2, each of the accountability forums correspond (in no particular order) to points A, B, C, D, E, F.

By connecting the accountability value points of each forum (which are estimated from a comprehensive review of the performance of each forum on a global scale, and are all measurably lower than the ideal 100%), we derive a new accountability line, below the 100% line. We can now divide the original full accountability rectangle into two distinct areas, (G and H), where the area of H represents the effective accountability (about 50% of the ideal rectangle) and G represents the degree to which forums are not effectively guaranteeing accountability.

 

If we think of this in our graphic example, Figure 3 shows how after intervention (assuming it is successful), the individual values of accountability measured at each point (A, B, C, D, E, F) and represented collectively by Line 1 (L1), move upwards, forming a new line L2 closer to the 100% Rights Accountability Baseline. In this scenario, the accountability gap of the system, which was represented in Figure 2 by the large area G, and now represented the new area G’, is significantly smaller.

The “ultimate ideal” is of course to bring the actual line flush with the Rights Accountability Baseline. But as long as we are moving progressively towards that line, and reducing the size of G, then we can say that our strategy is having a positive relative impact to secure greater corporate rights accountability.

Now let’s turn to the most important question, how to get line L1 to move to L2, and eventually get even closer or flush with the RAB. We illustrate with examples from the Pulp Mill Case.

The SRSG has suggested a three pronged approach which offers a useful framework for us to think about how a new SRSG mandate and implementation plan might look. That framework, we recall, is grounded on the State Duty to Protect, the Corporate Responsibility to Respect, and the Victim’s need for Redress. Three actors are clearly identified in this model, State, Companies, and Victims.

If we return to the idea that each of the forums or systems that presently exist (the A, B, C, D, E, Fs) is governed by a set of rules, norms, laws, safeguards, etc, then it is logical to presume that an affected party (or an organization charged with representing such a party) might engage with each of the relevant forums through said guidelines. While the forum may be very well constituted, and cover the relevant rights issues pertinent to the corporate activity it addresses, it also may not, or may have significant gaps which must be addressed. Further, the State may have certain duties to protect rights which the forum may not address.

In any given conflict that arises, victims will automatically turn to their available channels of action or redress. However, they may or may not know that safeguard norms, or laws, or voluntary codes exist to help them, or that multiple forums also exist that could be approached and utilized through complaint submission processes. The SRSG has said in his report that this “is due in part to a lack of awareness as to where these mechanisms are located, how they function, and what supporting resources exist.” (para. 102)

For example, in the Pulp Mill case, the Argentinian community opposing the construction of the pulp mills (and hence CEDHA and the other organizations representing the interests of this community) was faced with the following landscape of actors and available channels of action.

However, at the outset we were not fully aware of each of these options. It was only through careful brainstorming and consideration of all the various dimensions of the case that we were able to identify the list of channels which we eventually pursued.

If the victim approaches the resolution of his/her conflict through any one of the entry points (see Figure 4), the effectiveness of the forum to resolve the conflict will depend on the forum’s capacity to appropriately address the issues brought up in the complaint. It will depend on the norms that govern the forum and their completeness and appropriateness relative to the potential harms that the actors that control the forum can have influence on.

The corporate accountability effectiveness of the forum will also depend on the forum’s relative power, as well as its political interest in resolving the conflict in favor of protecting the rights (or entitlements) of the victim, as opposed to resolving it in favor of whatever other interest the forum’s operators may have (or pressures they may receive from other interested actors), which may be jeopardized by favoring the protection of the victim. This dilemma can be clearly seen in the example of the OECD National Contact Points, which are oftentimes entrusted to promote investments, and at the same time, oversee compliance of social and environmental norms.

If the responsible party for the forum has interests that outweigh the interests of protecting the rights of the victim (as oftentimes occurs), or if the forum does not have the political power to leverage change, or to act on the violations discovered, or force the culprit to modify its practice or provide reparations, then the capacity of the forum to deliver corporate accountability in the face of rights violations will necessarily be limited. In such cases, particularly where the forum is a non-State forum, the Duty of the State to protect the right in question necessarily comes into play and must be addressed.

In sum, the determining factors which will define the degree of accountability (and hence the degree of appropriateness for application to the case at hand) of the forum chosen to resolve any given conflict involving corporate rights abuses are:

  • Appropriateness of the norms with respect to the type of violation the forum typically reviews, and the impacts of such violations on rights;
  • Effectiveness of the mechanisms designed by the forum to uphold the norm it professes to protect;
  • Leverage of the forum to influence decisions of the culprit (where culprit and forum are the same a conflict of interest may arise);
  • Discretion, power and willingness of the forum to enforce rights above other interests;
  • Efficiency and effectiveness of overall grievance mechanism(s) offered by the forum.

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Returning to the Pulp Mill case, we now examine how we approached our advocacy, which forums we chose, and the results obtained in each.

a) The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights

Curiously, the forum at which we felt we had the most knowledge and competence, and where our legal team felt most secure (the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights) was probably the most irrelevant of all of our filings. The case was never formally admitted. It stalled at the admissibility stage and was entirely ignored by the Commission on Human Rights even up to the present, where it still resides without action. If we had to define the level of accountability of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights for this case, it would probably be practically “none”.

This shouldn’t however, rule out the importance of the exercise/experience to the overall objective of the case. We said earlier that our objectives as an advocacy organization and the objectives of the community may differ. In this case, this was a point where this in fact occurred. While this filing and our advocacy before the Inter-American Commission produced small or next to no results for the community (except for some heightened media coverage at the time), in our broader objectives of advancing corporate accountability at the international level, the Inter-American Commission filing was actually quite relevant.

As the case evolved we identified one very important ulterior motive for maintaining and utilizing this forum. After the CAO (the World Bank’s Compliance Advisory Ombudsman), which is non-binding and whose opinions and/or recommendations are entirely non enforceable for IFC, published its damning audit, we identified the opportunity of transmitting these findings of an inter-governmental agency with no “teeth”, to an intergovernmental agency with teeth.

As such, we began the informal process of convincing the Inter American Commission Secretary to meet with the head of the CAO and formally request the CAO’s report in the context of the case we had already filed against Uruguay. The rationale behind our intent was that these two intergovernmental agencies under the aegis of the United Nations, could and should exchange official information in order to seek binding accountability to protect victims.

If the CAO, by mandate, could not force compliance, the Inter-American Commission, by mandate could. So why not use the official evidence of one of these institutions, to gain binding obligations under the other? Our insistence before the two bodies resulted in a meeting at Starbucks in Washington DC of these two agency heads, and of the formal delivery of the CAO Audit Report to the Commission on Human Rights.

Unfortunately, we were never successful in convincing the Commission to act on the evidence, which would have closed the circle. But we did find out later that in a similar case, with conflicts arising out of an Inter-American Development Bank (IADB) project in Latin America, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights requested evidence produced by the IADB in that case. This might be the beginnings of a new collaborative relationship between such institutions, which could serve to improve access to justice for impacted stakeholder communities worldwide.

b) The Compliance Advisory Ombudsman (CAO)

The CAO Complaint against Botnia, ENCE and IFC turned out to be one of the most important and critical complaints filed in the case, as it provided a damning audit report against the project sponsors and gave us grounds to file other complaints.

The CAO complaint was a central piece in our advocacy because it revealed to the world precisely what we were trying to convey, that IFC and the companies in question had botched their due diligence, and as such should not receive financing from the intergovernmental financial agency (the World Bank). This was no small matter, since a slew of other banks, including the likes of ING, Calyon, Nordea, BBVA, NIB, Santander, Finnvera, CESCE, ICO, and others were awaiting confirmation on whether the World Bank (through the auspices of IFC and MIGA (the World Bank’s guarantee agency)) would give its loans. If it did so the other banks would follow. If it did not the risks associated to the project, particularly considering the damning audit report from the CAO, would drive the investment into a higher risk category, and hence the price of the loans would be different.

We mentioned earlier that NGOs are commonly questioned in their technical claims. This was definitely so in this case, but with the CAO audit report findings on our side, our credibility skyrocketed. It was no longer some “extremist” environmental group criticizing Botnia, ENCE and the IFC, but rather it was the World Bank’s own compliance control agency.

We knew from the beginning that the CAO could not stop this project, and we did not expect it to do so. But we were also prepared to take the CAO findings to other forums, which is exactly what we did. This leveraging of the CAO complaint, and the resulting audit findings was crucial in this case. It would have never achieved so much recognition in as many circles as it did, if we had not deepened our strategy and move beyond the CAO results. This is an important lesson for us, and for others. An effective strategy must build on results, utilizing positive results innovatively and strategically, and not presuming that such results in and of themselves will resolve the dispute. In fact, we should stress, that despite the damning CAO audit and suggestions that this project should not continue as it was, IFC ignored the results and moved forward with the loan anyway.

Had we stopped at the audit and expected that the World Bank actors and associated private and public financial institutions would fall in line against the project, we would have failed much sooner. In time in fact, the Board Members of the World Bank began to forget the content of the CAO report, and presumed, erroneously that if the project was moving forward, it was because the IFC and the companies (Botnia specifically) had resolved the issues laid out by the CAO. This was clearly not true, but as in most cases, time works against you and you need to act quickly to capitalize on victories such as this one.

c) The Equator Principles

The most tenuous and seemingly intangible complaint we filed in this case- the Equator Principles Complaint, which was a fabrication of our own imagination- turned out to have enormous impact, resulting in the withdrawal of US$480 million pledged by ING to Botnia for the construction of the Orion pulp mill. When we filed this “virtual” complaint, we had no idea that it would turn out to set enormous precedent in the field and have such a significant impact on the case.

The various other forums and the complaints filed at each had very different results and significance for the case. We cannot say that any single forum was a total game changer, but some very significant results that changed the case in important ways were obtained.

d) The OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises

For instance, the OECD Guidelines process, largely criticized (in some ways shortsightedly by NGOs) for generally never obtaining concrete results, were actually critical in other aspects of this case. For instance, until we filed the OECD complaint against Botnia and Finnvera (the State Export Credit Agency), the Finnish government refused to engage with the community at all, claiming (misleadingly) that the community did not have the right to participation in the project because it was a private sector endeavor. In fact, the Finnish government, as we mentioned earlier, was 49% owner of the company (Kemira) which would produce the contaminating agent (chlorine), and which would be built at the Botnia site. Further, Finnvera was co-financier in the project. Nonetheless, the Finnish Embassy in Buenos Aires refused to meet with the Assembly of Gualeguaychú, and refused to comment on the case. That changed with the Specific Instance we filed.

The OECD Guidelines process was key to helping the community gain access to the State. It was not until we filed the Specific Instances that the community was allowed to sit with a government official and talk about impact, about norms compliance, and about international law. Further, the cases before the NCP immediately opened channels of communication with the Finnish media and with other civil society institutions in Finland, which had until that point remained cool to engagement. The Specific Instance complaints were addressed by the NCP in Helsinki, which also provided an opportunity for community members to travel to Finland and speak directly with government officials, get direct media attention of Finnish newspapers, radios, and television stations, and be able to sit with Finnish NGOs to learn about how Finnish society has dealt and struggled with the pulp mill sector over the years The same struggle which is now being exported to developing countries and communities around the world. Such was the national coverage in Finland of the complaints that we had access to the highest levels of government, and, for instance, obtained a personal meeting, with widespread media coverage, in the office of the Minister of Trade and Foreign Relations, Paula Lehtomaki . None of these opportunities would have materialized had we not filed the Specific Instances.

We’ve listed below, very briefly, a few of the advocacy choices we made, in terms of forums and the subsequent results.

Consider now the differences between actions taken through formal vs. informal forums and the resulting influence (or lack thereof) at the following institutions:

Institution Forum Procedure Result


[1] This framework is taken from a document we submitted to Professor John Ruggie in April of 2008, entitled: “Recommendations for the Continuation of the Mandate of the UN Special Representative on Human Rights and Transnational Corporations and other Business Practices”