Areas Human Rights & Development
Human Rights & Development
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Renewable energy is instrumental to the success of the SDGs. But, renewable energy projects have at times undermined the achievement of the SDGs and adversely affected human rights. Given the urgency and scale at which renewables must be deployed to meet the world’s climate goals, it is especially critical that we understand their potential impacts—both positive and negative—on each SDG, to ensure that renewable energy driven development does not come at the expense of other development goals.
Advancing land rights are a crucial step to ensure that investments have positive rather than negative impacts for local communities. CCSI undertakes strategic activities to influence existing international legal frameworks and agendas to strengthen land rights protections, particularly for the most vulnerable of land users, and to support new actors and sectors in focusing on land rights.
CCSI assists stakeholders, researchers, and advocacy organizations by analyzing resource contracts for human rights, fiscal, sustainable development, and environmental implications.
CCSI is developing a tool to assist stakeholders in conducting their own assessments of the human rights and environmental implications of land contracts. This tool will explain the main human rights or environmental issues that may be implicated by the underlying deals, note whether the issues are likely to be included in contracts, describe the relevant human rights norms or environmental standards, and provide an overview of best practices.
CCSI, in partnership with the Sciences Po Law School Clinic and the Danish Institute for Human Rights, has developed a collaborative approach to human rights impact assessments (HRIAs) of private sector investment projects. Although HRIAs have become increasingly prominent in recent years, one specific challenge is the frequent lack of trust between communities and companies, which often extends to distrust of HRIAs that “the other side” has initiated. A collaborative approach to HRIAs provides an avenue to jointly undertake an HRIA that is considered credible by all sides and that helps to address the power imbalances that often exist between companies and communities around private sector projects.
CCSI supported local organizations in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to carry out human rights impact assessments, as well as developing two economic models for the Sicomines mine in the DRC to compare the financial flows under the resource for infrastructure deal with a ‘traditional’ contract under the mining code of the DRC.
What are the implications for individuals’ or communities’ ability to obtain redress for harms after investors or lenders have pulled out of a project, or after a project has failed? In light of the continued pressure on investors and lenders to divest from problematic projects, as well as the number of land deals that have failed altogether, CCSI is working to examine the loopholes, gaps, and unenforceable elements in laws and policies regarding redress of harms to communities when investors or funders have left a project and to develop proposed solutions for improving redress options in those circumstances.
CCSI created and manages the Negotiation Support Portal, to improve the accessibility of tools, resources and technical assistance to support host governments’ planning, preparing for, negotiating, monitoring, and implementing large-scale resource and infrastructure investments, and to facilitate coordination among support providers and host governments. In addition, CCSI has launched a series of meetings of negotiation support providers to create a forum to discuss common challenges and opportunities and to facilitate greater coordination among support providers.
Community Development Requirements: Domestic Laws, Best Practices, and Community Development Agreements Database
CCSI has a growing portfolio of activities regarding community development requirements and community development agreements (CDAs) that includes: (i) mapping domestic legal requirements for community development in the context of mining projects; (ii) policy and research on best practices around CDAs and benefit sharing for extractive, agricultural, and forestry projects; and (iii) regularly maintained collection of publicly available community agreements relating to extractive, agricultural, and forestry projects.
CCSI is exploring how free, prior, and informed consent (FPIC) and consultation processes can be integrated into investor-state contract negotiations, taking into account the practicalities of contract negotiations, to better safeguard the land rights and human rights of members of project-affected communities.
CCSI is partnering with Namati to produce a guide for communities and their advisors regarding their interactions with investors. The guidance will help in assessing whether to negotiate with investors seeking to make land investments, and, if so, issues to consider when doing so. The guidance will build off CCSI’s research on community-investor agreements tied to agricultural and forestry investments, including the collection and analysis of more than 40 community-investor agreements.
While there are a number of existing resources that can assist communities and their advocates in their interactions with investors over land—from negotiating better agreements with investors, to monitoring whether investors fulfill the terms of their agreements—these resources are not always easy to find. CCSI has created a detailed Google document that lists relevant guides and other documents, provides links to the original documents, and includes brief descriptions of their content.
With the support of the Environmental Law Clinic at Columbia Law School and the Law School Clinic at Sciences Po, CCSI submitted an application to file a written submission as an “other person” in Bear Creek Mining Corporation v. Republic of Peru. CCSI’s submission focused on a range of issues, including: The implications of international… read more
CCSI focuses on the intersection of international investment law and international human rights law, and the impacts of their application for the most vulnerable of rights-holders. Among other things, this includes a specific focus on investment arbitrations, and their implications for the realization of human rights.
In May 2016, CCSI and the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples co-hosted a workshop on indigenous peoples and investment. The workshop brought together indigenous representatives, legal practitioners, academics, and other stakeholders to discuss how international investment and trade frameworks, and the international human rights law regime can be reformed to strengthen the rights of indigenous peoples.
Among the critical issues that arise from the interaction of human rights and investment law is whether and how the relatively greater access to justice provided to aggrieved investors by the international investment regime undermines access to justice for other individuals and communities, including those affected by large-scale land-based investment.
Dealing with land-based investments and the grievances that they raise can be difficult for host governments, who face a complicated landscape of legal obligations and pragmatic considerations. This project examines the different legal frameworks governing what governments can do to address and remedy land-related grievances after investment concessions have been awarded, with a specific focus on government obligations under international investment law and international human rights law.
Through its research, technical inputs, and convenings, CCSI works to help articulate the role of home states in advancing responsible and rights-compliant outward investment.
CCSI, together with the World Bank and the Natural Resource Governance Institute, has developed ResourceContracts.org, an online, searchable and user-friendly database of publicly available resource contracts from around the world. In October 2015, the database was expanded to include publicly available land contracts, which are accessible through OpenLandContracts.org.
In March 2017, CCSI presented a working paper titled “Articulating a Rights-Based Argument for Land Contract Disclosure” at the World Bank Land & Poverty Conference. The paper explores whether and how existing state obligations under human rights law require disclosure of land contracts and more transparent contracting processes around land investments.
Support for Host Country Governments in the Planning, Preparation for, Negotiation, Implementation, and Monitoring of Large-Scale Investments
CCSI created a Negotiation Support Portal designed to improve the accessibility of technical assistance and of useful tools and resources to assist host governments planning, preparing for, negotiating, monitoring, and implementing large-scale investments in the extractive industries, land and agriculture, and infrastructure sectors, and to facilitate coordination among support providers and host governments.
CCSI partnered with the Institute for Human Rights and Business to co-convene two colloquiums on Policy, Law, Contracts, and Sustainable Investments. These events helped map efforts to embed sustainability and human rights in extractives projects and land deals, with a particular focus on what is negotiated and concluded in contracts.
CCSI regularly hosts speakers, roundtables, workshops, and events on a variety of related topics.