• 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.
  • Map of Eritrea with location of Bisha Mine.
    International mining firms rushing to invest in Eritrea’s burgeoning minerals sector risk involvement in serious abuses unless they take strong preventive measures. The failure of the Vancouver-based company Nevsun Resources to ensure that forced labor would not be used during construction of its Eritrea mine, and its limited ability to deal with forced labor allegations when they arose, highlight the risk.
  • 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

  • Mar 20, 2014
    France’s indictment of the eldest son of President Teodoro Obiang Nguema of Equatorial Guinea on money-laundering charges sends a strong message in the global fight against kleptocracy. French courts issued the indictment against Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue, known as Teodorín, who is a top official in his father’s government and considered a possible successor to his father, on March 18, 2014, RFI reported.
  • Mar 14, 2014
    A major global initiative to encourage governments to better manage natural resource revenues should reject Ethiopia’s bid for membership due to its harsh restrictions on civil society, Human Rights Watch said today.
  • Mar 4, 2014
  • Feb 3, 2014
    Meri, an indigenous woman in northeastern Uganda, was shocked when strangers, accompanied by soldiers, showed up unannounced on her land in late 2012 and started to take rock samples without explanation. One of her neighbours described company representatives drilling and extracting samples inside her home. These stories are not isolated. Mining companies, in co-ordination with the government, are starting to explore for minerals in the Karamoja region without first getting the permission of traditional landowners. And the government has condoned these practices.
  • Feb 3, 2014
    Uganda’s nascent mining industry could do more harm than good for indigenous people unless the government makes reforms and mining companies start respecting rights, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. Uganda’s government has promoted private investment in mining in the remote northeastern Karamoja region to bring economic development, but should implement reforms to respect the rights of indigenous people to determine how their lands are used.
  • Nov 28, 2013
    With the holiday season fast approaching, many people will be shopping for jewellery gifts. This is a good moment to ask whether the necklaces, rings, and earrings that will be given to loved ones this festive season have been produced responsibly.
  • Nov 12, 2013
    Human Rights Watch has documented the use of child labor in small-scale gold mining in Mali, Ghana, and Tanzania. Children are subject to the worst forms of child labor—in particular, hazardous child labor—when they work underground, carry heavy loads, work with dangerous tools, and use toxic mercury.
  • Nov 7, 2013
    The new timber trade agreement between Indonesia and the European Union does not go far enough to curb illegal logging linked to rights abuses, Human Rights Watch said.
  • Sep 17, 2013
    The government of President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, in power since 1979, has not acted to fulfill the reform pledges made in these various fora. Instead, it has sought to enhance its international standing and improve its image while continuing to disregard economic and social rights, harass civil society activists, impose severe restrictions on freedom of expression, undermine political rights, and carry out unfair trials. The government’s disregard of its human rights commitments is also evident in its actions against human rights defenders from Equatorial Guinea who delivered statements to the Human Rights Council in 2010. These individuals have faced a variety of repercussions for their criticisms of the government.
  • Sep 2, 2013
    The Azerbaijani government is engaged in a deliberate, abusive strategy to limit dissent. The strategy is designed to curtail opposition political activity, limit public criticism of the government, and exercise greater control over nongovernmental organizations. The clampdown on freedom of expression, assembly, and association have accelerated in the months preceding the presidential elections, scheduled for October 9, 2013.