ICJ initiative on effective operational-level grievance mechanisms for business related rights abuses.
The ICJ project will analyze a series of issues affecting the effectiveness of operational-level grievance mechanisms for business related rights abuses and provide guidance addressed to legal practionners and human rights defenders working on this field.
Operational-level Grievance Mechanisms (OGMs) are internal mechanisms implemented by business enterprises to address concerns raised by individuals or local communities affected by the business’ operations.
Many business enterprises developed their own OGMs or are part of a collective institutional scheme to address concerns raised by local communities affected by their operations.
These mechanisms are part of the business responsibility to respect human rights and also part of their efforts to remedy harm or abuses that may have been committed.
Their efficiency depends on their internal design and also on their implementation.
The ICJ project aims to respond to concerns about instances where these mechanisms initially meant to help people resulted in unfair or unclear procedures and inadequate outcomes for the kind of harm experienced.
To conduct this project, the ICJ has established an Expert Panel consisting of six prominent jurists to provide the ICJ with their expert advice and guidance.
The panelists will consult with key stakeholders and work with a Consultative Group convened by the ICJ.
The Consultative Group gathers academics and practitioners with practical expertise on OGMs.
The project methodology includes site visits, research of specific cases, meetings and consultations.
The focus of the site visits and case study will be on the OGM established by business enterprises rather than the alleged human rights abused.
The Expert Panel
The members of the Panel are:
Justice Ian Binnie has an extensive background in corporate and litigation law and served 14 years as a Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada, during which he times he authored over 170 opinions, including landmark judgments, on cases involving aboriginal rights, intellectual property, media law, commercial disputes, punitive damages and many other matters of constitutional, criminal and administrative law. He was only the second modern Supreme Court Justice to have been appointed directly from the Bar. Throughout his legal career Ian Binnie often took on public service roles including serving as Canada’s Associate Deputy Minister of Justice and later as Special Parliamentary Counsel to the Joint Committee on Proposed Constitutional Amendments (the Meech Lake Accord).Justice Binnie studied law at the University of Toronto, Canada, and at Cambridge University, England. He has been called to the English Bar, the Ontario Bar and the Yukon Territory Bar. He has also been admitted to practice before the International Court of Justice and has appeared before so, as well as other international tribunals, in both government and commercial disputes.Justice Binnie has been a dedicated Commissioner of the ICJ since 2003 and he has also served on the ICJ’s Executive Committee. He provided assistance on the ICJ’s study series on access to justice for corporate abuses and has spoken at ICJ conferences. Recently, he co-Chaired an ICAR-Amnesty project on “Principles on Corporate Crime”.
Ms. Sheila B. Keetharuth was appointed in October 2012 as the first Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Eritrea, a mandate which she still holds. She was member of the Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in Eritrea from June 2014 to June 2016. She has worked and travelled in Africa for three decades and brings extensive experience in the area of human rights, including research, advocacy, litigation and training. Since May 2014 she is an expert member of the Working Group on Extractive Industries, Environment and Human Rights Violations of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights.As a researcher based at the University of Pretoria, South Africa, she is currently focusing on Operational Grievance Mechanisms.After obtaining an LL.M. in International Human Rights Law and Civil Liberties at the University of Leicester she was called to the Bar in Mauritius in January 1997. In July 2002, she joined Amnesty International as a Researcher at the Africa Regional Office in Kampala, Uganda, and acted as the Interim Head of Office until December 2005. From November 2006 to June 2012, Sheila B. Keetharuth was the Executive Director of the Institute for Human Rights and Development in Africa (IHRDA), a pan-African NGO based in Banjul, The Gambia, conducting litigation before the African human rights system. She has also worked as a broadcaster for over eight years on the African continent.
Justice O’Meally is a mediator accredited by the Institute of Arbitrators and Mediators of Australia. He is a graduate of the University of Sydney and was admitted to the New South Wales (NSW) and Australian Bars in 1964 and then later to the Papua New Guinea Bar and Western Pacific Bar.Justice O’Meally has worked as a barrister and judge in Australia, Papua New Guinea, Antigua and Barbuda. He has been a judge of the Workers Compensation Commission of NSW, the Compensation Court of NSW, and District Court of NSW. He was appointed President of the Dust Diseases Tribunal in Australia upon its creation in 1989, a post he retained until he retired from this in 2011. The Dust Diseases Tribunal was established to ensure early hearings to plaintiffs with dust-related diseases to ensure seriously ill complainants could be heard promptly.When Justice O’Meally retired from the Bench he was Australia’s longest serving judge. During his legal career he also served as a Consultant to the Governments of St Lucia on Restructuring the District Court and the Solomon Islands on Restoration of the Legal System.John Lawrence O’Meally is a member of the Council of the Australian Section of the International Commission of Jurists and President of the New South Wales Branch of the Australian Section of the ICJ. As a member of the Australian Section of the ICJ he has participated in delegations to East Timor and Papua New Guinea. He is currently serving his first term as an ICJ Commissioner, having been elected to this position in 2015.
Alejandro Salinas Rivera is currently serving his first term as an ICJ Commissioner, having been elected in December 2016. Alejandro Salinas Rivera has a broad range of expertise in international human rights issues and cooperation, mining and labour law. He has also worked closely with the Chilean government and has extensive experience in policy making at a local level. He was part of the Unit in charge of developing the National Plan of Action on Business and Human Rights in Chile, an initiative being implemented by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He has collaborated with and ran leading national and international human rights organizations. He chaired the Inter Governmental Working Group that drafted the Basic UN Principle on the right to a remedy and reparation for victims of violence of international human rights and humanitarian law.He has worked as a consultant and adviser for the ICJ as well as for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the International Parliamentary Union and the Presidential Advisory Commission for human Rights Policy. He has been the head of a number of Departments and Units in various government agencies including the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as Director of the Human Rights Department; the Attorney General’s Office as Chief of the Unit of International Affairs; and at the Public Defender’s Officer as Chief of Staff of the National Defender, Head of the Evaluation, Control and Claims Department and Head of the International Cooperation Unit.
Professor Marco Sassòli is currently serving his first term as Commissioner, having been elected in 2013. He has been an Alternate Executive Committee member since 2014. He has expertise on public international law, international humanitarian law, international responsibility, international law and non-state actors and terrorism. Professor Marco Sassòli has worked at the Faculty of Law of the University of Geneva since 2004 and was the Director of the Department of Public International Law and International Organisation at the University from 2009-2016. He is also currently an Associate Professor of International Law at the University of Quebec in Montreal, Canada, having previously worked as a Professor there between 2001 and 2003. He has published extensively.Marco Sassòli completed his law studies at the Universities of Basel and Neuchâtel and his doctoral thesis at the University of Basel. He was admitted to the Bar of the Canton of Basel-Stadt. He was clerk at the Swiss Supreme Court in Lausanne. He worked for 13 years at the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) including as Head of Delegation in Jordan and Syria, coordinating protection activities in the former Yugoslavia, and Deputy Head of the Legal Division in Geneva. Between 2004 and 2013. Marco Sassòli chaired the Board of Trustees of Geneva Call, a neutral and impartial humanitarian organization dedicated to engaging armed non-State actors (NSAs) towards compliance with the norms of international humanitarian law and human rights law. Professor Sassòli is also regularly involved in the training of armed forces international humanitarian law.
Justice Ajit Prakash Shah has been an ICJ Commissioner since 2014. He has extensive judicial experience and has presided over public hearings relating to megaprojects and right abuses by corporations. He is currently Chairman of the Law Commission of India as well as a Member of Governing Council for Judicial Reforms, appointed by the Ministry of Law and Justice. He was appointed as the Judge of Bombay High Court in 1992 and was later elevated to the office of Chief Justice, Madras High Court in 2005 and on transfer took over as Chief Justice, Delhi High Court on from 2008 until his retirement in 2010.During his tenure as Chief Justice of the High Court of Delhi, Justice Shah has delivered landmark rulings on a number of wide-ranging cases such as application of the Right to Information Act; decriminalization of homosexuality; freedom of speech and expression; environment and ecological matters; protection of disabled persons; women’s rights; contract labour; child labour; and employment rights of HIV affected persons. Since his retirement he has presided over a number of public hearings including dam projects and violations of locals’ rights by a power plant. Recently he concluded a report on a Committee he led to settle a dispute concerning gas migration between Reliance Industries and the Oil and Natural Gas Company (ONGC).
The Consultative Group
A Consultative Group has been established in parallel to the panel as a body to provide advice to the Panel and to the ICJ in the implementation of the project. Members of the Consultative Group are individuals and organization (lawyers, civil society, academic institutions, the legal profession) with practical knowledge and experience on issues relating to human rights, businesses and operational grievance mechanisms.
This Group also provides information and commentaries to the Panel and the ICJ through a series of meetings and hearings. The Consultative Group also takes part to consultations about the outcomes of the project.