Today in Ottawa, the Canadian Network on Corporate Accountability organized a press conference, and hosted a “Lunch & Learn” hybrid meeting on Canadian corporate impunity, at the offices of the Canadian Labour Congress, with human rights investigator Elvin Hernandez, and with Professor Robert McCorquodale, Vice-Chairperson of the United Nations Working Group on Business and Human Rights.
A human rights investigator for ERIC-Radio Progreso in Honduras, on a tour of Canada supported by CNCA member-organization Development and Peace, Mr. Hernandez works with communities in Central America facing human rights abuses, including abuses by Canadian mining companies.
He spoke first-hand to harms linked to Canadian companies in Central America, and of his hope to raise awareness among Canadian parliamentarians and citizens of the need for mandatory human rights due diligence legislation to hold Canadian companies accountable for the consequences of their presence abroad.
“The United Nations has urged states to adopt such legislation,” said Mr. Hernandez. “Some European countries have already done so, as have some Latin American states. But we believe that the Canadian Parliament’s initiative to adopt a mandatory human rights due diligence law is very important, not only for Canada, but also for Latin America, Central America and in particular for Honduras.”
Vice-Chairperson of the United Nations Working Group on Business and Human Rights, Emeritus Professor of International Law and Human Rights at the University of Nottingham, and barrister/mediator at Brick Court Chambers in London, Professor Robert McCorquodale has been researching, teaching and advising on business and human rights for three decades, and has authored numerous scholarly articles and reports.
He spoke to global developments in corporate accountability, including links between corporate accountability and climate justice, and their relevance to Canada.
“Corporations have a very clear and important duty in relation to their activities which might have adverse human rights impacts,” said Professor McCorquodale. “Legislation that only provides for reporting but doesn’t have any sanction for the companies has been proven ineffective,” he said.
Both Mr. Hernandez and Mr. McCorquodale joined representatives of CNCA member-organizations and others for a ‘Lunch & Learn’ after the press conference.