• 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.
  • Gubad Ibadoglu, activist for revenue transparency in Azerbaijan and member of the governing board of EITI, has been targeted in a government crackdown on independent groups.
    The Azerbaijan government’s offensive against human rights defenders and nongovernmental organizations should lead to its suspension from an international transparency initiative.
  • 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

Extractive Industries

  • Sep 24, 2014
    BP should tackle a harsh government crackdown on independent groups and activists in Azerbaijan, Human Rights Watch said in a letter released today. The crackdown has seriously compromised an international natural resource transparency initiative in which the company plays a leading role. On September 20, 2014, BP and the government of Azerbaijan, a member of the same group, the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), held a high-profile ceremony to mark the official start of a major new project to supply gas from Azerbaijan to Europe.
  • Sep 12, 2014
  • Aug 14, 2014
    The Azerbaijan government’s offensive against human rights defenders and nongovernmental organizations should lead to its suspension from an international transparency initiative.
  • 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.
  • Jul 2, 2014
  • Jul 2, 2014
    President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo of Equatorial Guinea should immediately release an unjustly imprisoned Italian citizen and ensure he gets prompt medical treatment. Roberto Berardi, a former business partner of President Obiang’s eldest son, has been in custody since January 2013 in an apparent effort to prevent him from disclosing information about the son. Berardi has become seriously ill yet has been denied medical treatment.
  • Jun 25, 2014
    Global leaders visiting Equatorial Guinea for an African Union summit should call on the government of President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo to improve its human rights record and urgently address corruption.
  • Jun 12, 2014
    Many multinational companies now ban children from working in their operations, but child labor is still a central issue for them. In the globalized economy, products have long and complex supply chains, often reaching down to a multitude of small, local producers. Companies may source from businesses that use child labor without knowing – unless they take steps to ask the question.
  • 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 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.