• Whether it is an oil company that relies on abusive private security forces, a tech company that censors or spies on users at the behest of a repressive government, or a corrupt government that siphons off the wealth of its nation, businesses and other economic activities can have negative impacts on people’s rights. Human Rights Watch investigates these and other situations to expose the problems, hold institutions accountable, and develop standards to prevent these activities. This work has included research and advocacy on human rights problems caused by corruption in resource-rich countries such as Equatorial Guinea, Angola, Nigeria, and Burma.
  • Internet café in Lalibela, Amhara Region, Ethiopia.
    The Ethiopian government is using foreign technology to bolster its widespread telecom surveillance of opposition activists and journalists both in Ethiopia and abroad.

Featured Content

  • Without Rules: A Failed Approach to Corporate Accountability

    By Christopher Albin-Lackey, senior researcher

    Some of the most powerful and sophisticated actors on the world stage are companies, not governments. In 2011 alone, oil and gas behemoth ExxonMobil generated revenues of US$467 billion—the size of Norway’s entire economy. Walmart, the world’s third-largest employer with more than 2 million workers, has a workforce that trails only the militaries of the United States and China in size.

    Many global businesses are run with consideration for the well-being of the people whose lives they touch. But others—whether through incompetence or by design—seriously harm the communities around them, their workers, and even the governments under which they work.

    Read the full essay >>

Reports

Corporations

  • Aug 8, 2014
    The US-Africa Summit wrapped up yesterday, but that wasn't the end of the fanfare for one of its most controversial participants. President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo of Equatorial Guinea, the world’s longest serving non-royal head of state, was honored at an invitation-only dinner last night hosted by the Corporate Council on Africa.
  • Jun 27, 2014
    Saudi Arabia’s government should clarify whether it is infecting and monitoring mobile phones with surveillance malware. Saudi officials should also say whether and how they intend to protect the rights of those targeted to privacy and free expression.
  • Jun 25, 2014
    The Tajikistan government has shortchanged hundreds of families resettled to make way for a large-scale hydroelectric dam. Despite government commitments to comply with international standards on resettlement that protect the rights of those displaced, it has not provided the necessary compensation to displaced families to replace their homes or restore their livelihoods.
  • Jun 13, 2014
    We are writing regarding the ‘lessons learned’ presentation given by IFC to the Board on 4 April and to civil society on 8 April. While we welcome much in that document, on balance, as civil society organisations that have engaged with the IFC over many years, we feel a deep concern that this exercise will not produce the changes needed to avoid future harm to communities and the environment from IFC investments and to ensure a better impact of IFC projects on development. This concern arises from two specific issues: a number of serious omissions in the content of the lessons learned document; and a lack of clarity about the future process of how these lessons will be followed through, to implementation, as well as monitoring and evaluation.
  • Jun 10, 2014
    I am writing regarding the Council’s engagement on business and human rights issues. We are aware of highly divergent views among delegations over whether and how to launch government negotiations leading to a legally binding instrument addressing business-related abuses. Although some states seek to initiate a negotiating process imminently, at the moment there is insufficient clarity on the scope of the proposed instrument or evidence it would have sufficient support to have the desired impact.
  • May 22, 2014
    It is up to the US Senate to salvage surveillance reform. The version of the USA Freedom Act that the US House of Representatives passed on May 22, 2014, could ultimately fail to end mass data collection.
  • May 20, 2014
    Health ministers should pledge to take comprehensive action to prevent and treat the negative health effects of mercury, a toxic chemical. The World Health Assembly is scheduled to discuss a resolution on the new international treaty on mercury, the Minamata Convention, on May 21, 2014.
  • May 8, 2014
    The US House Judiciary Committee took a long overdue step on May 7, 2014, with its move to reform one aspect of the government’s mass surveillance programs. The committee approved unanimously a revised version of the USA Freedom Act that would aim to end the government’s bulk collection of telephone metadata and other records in the United States.
  • May 2, 2014
    King Juan Carlos is visiting Kuwait and Bahrain this week, after Abu Dhabi and Qatar two weeks ago in a series of visits to the gulf region that will also take him to Oman and Saudi Arabia over the next two months. He is traveling with a high-level delegation that includes the ministers of foreign affairs, transport, defense and energy, as well as the heads of some of Spain’s biggest companies.
  • Apr 28, 2014