Accountability for corporate complicity in human rights violations: adapting existing models to the Latin American context
Professor Leigh Payne (Latin American Centre/Sociology, Oxford) and Dr Gabriel Pereira (Sociology) are working to advance justice and remedy for victims of human rights atrocities committed by corporations during dictatorships in Argentina, Colombia, Chile, Ecuador, Guatemala, and Peru.
Bringing corporations to account for their roles in human rights atrocities during Latin American dictatorships has proved to be a difficult task. Not only do those working in the area face significant obstructions, but it means there is a lack of justice for victims, or steps to provide remedy for them. Over half of truth commissions who have produced final reports into human rights abuses during dictatorships have recognised corporate responsibility for these violations: however, only a handful have included proactive recommendations that address the rights of victims.
Professor Payne and Dr Pereira have been working for several years to study how to overcome the obstacles that block justice for victims: this can include delays, slow progress, and dismissal of cases, and exoneration of companies for past abuse. They have worked closely with Andhes (a human rights organisation in Argentina) to map the obstacles involved, and to devise strategies to overcome these obstacles which serve victims in the best possible way. They have created a series of initiatives – including in policy reform, litigation, the design of truth commissions, and ways of raising awareness in government, legal, civil society, and victim stakeholders. The project has since been expanded to Colombia, and funds from the Open Society Foundations will cover travel to work with practitioners in Ecuador, Guatemala, and Peru.
This Knowledge Exchange Fellowship, funded by the Higher Education Innovation Fund (HEIF) and ESRC IAA, has allowed the project to expand further into Chile (specifically in relation to the dictatorship of Pinochet), and in the preparation of the materials that will outline the methodology of accountability models from existing collaborations, as well as building a network of practitioners from all six of the participating countries. The funding has allowed Dr Pereira to work closely with Andhes to work with larger numbers of victims of abuse than before, and increase the effectiveness of local human rights organisations in promoting justice for victims. From this project, the team would like to see the cost of corporate complicity in human rights abuses raised, reducing the abuses of businesses in the future, and creating funds for restitution for victims.
Key Project Activities
• Compiling a country-specific ‘research and action’ manual and guidelines for strategic litigation.
• Creating a new template for truth commissions.
• Roundtable and workshop events that aim to start building instruments of accountability for corporations.
• Creating communication channels (website and network) to share information and promote corporate accountability initiatives.
NEWS AND EVENTS
Click here to download the amicus curia submitted by the project team at the Colombia Constitutional Court (in Spanish)
Report on Corporate Complicity in Colombia (in SPANISH):
Roundtable and workshop events