Rights & Democracy announces studies on Human Rights and Foreign Direct Investment

MONTREAL – Sep. 1st, 2005 – Rights & Democracy will undertake five case studies examining the effects of foreign direct investment on human rights in Argentina, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Peru, Philippines and Tibet.

The five case studies will form the basis of Rights & Democracy’s groundbreaking Human Rights Impact Assessment project, which aims to establish a methodology for policy makers and communities interested in improving corporate accountability and ensuring that investment and project financing do not undermine international human rights laws and norms. These five cases were selected from over 40 submissions sent in response to a request for proposals by organizations from around the world.

The five case studies will examine the following capital projects: 

    Privatization of water distribution networks in Buenos Aires: This controversial investment by Suez/Vivendi (France) threatens Argentineans’ right to water and is headed for a precedent-setting arbitration at the International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID, World Bank). Project partners: Centro de Estudios Legales y Sociales (CELS), Asociación Civil por la Igualdad y la Justicia (ACIJ), together with other partners, have won the right to present an amicus curiae in the dispute.

    Health effects of mining in the Mantaro River Plains, Peru: This case will help a grassroots community women’s organization to establish a methodology for addressing the cumulative effects of mining operations of the Doe Run Resource Corporation on human rights in the region, including the right to food, right to water and the right to health. Project partner: Centro de Promocion y Estudios de la Mujer (CEPEMA-LULAY).

    Effects of multinational mining operations in the Katanga region of the Democratic Republic of Congo: The Congo’s wealth of natural resources has turned it into the site of ongoing conflict between armed groups seeking to control its riches. This study will assess the human rights impact of the Somika Mine in the region. Project Partners: CRONGD (Council of NGOs of Katanga – Lubumbashi) and GRAMA (Research Group on Mining in Africa – Montreal).
    Effects of multinational mining operations in Mindanao, Philippines: This study will also assess the human rights impact of mining operations in a conflict zone, in this case the operations of Canadian mining company TVI-Pacific around Mindanao in the southern Philippines. Already the subject of two Parliamentary hearings in Canada, TVI-Pacific’s operations in Mindanao will be assessed for their impact on indigenous rights, among other human rights concerns. Project Partners: Siocon Subanon Association Apu’ Manglang Pusaka, Save Siocon Paradise Movement (SSPM), Pigsalabukan Bansa Subanon, The Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center, Inc.- Kasama sa Kalikasan (LRC-KSK/Friends of the Earth-Philippines), The DIOPIM Committee on Mining Issues (DCMI), Philippine Indigenous Peoples Links, MiningWatch Canada (MWC), and Tebtebba.
    Gormo-Lhasa Railroad project, Tibet: The Gormo-Lhasa Railroad has the potential to be used by the Chinese military in Tibet and Central Asia with detrimental impact on a range of human rights. Rights & Democracy will focus specifically on the effect of information communications technologies provided by Canadian company, Nortel Networks, in collaboration with China’s Public Security Bureau and the Ministry of Railways. Project Partner: Independent IT expert Greg Walton