• 5 March 2014

    European Bank for Reconstruction and Development: Draft Environment and Social Policy Retreats on Human Rights

    By Accountability Counsel, Amnesty International, ARTICLE 19, CEE Bankwatch Network, Center for International Environmental Law, Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations (SOMO), & Human Rights Watch
    The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development’s new draft Environment and Social Policy weakens the Bank’s existing safeguards on human rights, according to a group of civil society organisations. The Bank and its member States must reconsider this backward step. They should use this opportunity to put in place policies and systems to ensure that the Bank takes all necessary steps to prevent it from causing, contributing to or exacerbating human rights violations.
  • 28 February 2014

    Mongolia’s water scarcity could threaten its economic boom

    By Oliver Balch, The Guardian
    The sight of foreign faces in Ulan Bator used to turn heads. Now they are two-a-penny as the once remote Mongolian capital fast becomes a hotspot for international investors. The main draw is the country’s rich mineral deposits, which, if successfully exploited, could see the national economy more than double over the next two decades. Impinging on that rosy picture, however, is the tricky question of water availability. The central Asian country suffers from extremes in seasonal runoff, local water stress and chronic deficits.
  • 27 February 2014

    IFC’s bitter tea: Investment in Assam receives global condemnation

    By Komala Ramachandra, Accountability Counsel, & Francesca Feruglio, Nazdeek, in the Bretton Woods Bulletin
    In February 2013, three grassroots organisations: Promotion and Advancement of Justice, Harmony and Rights of Adivasis (PAJHRA), People’s Action for Development and the Diocesan Board of Social Services filed a complaint on behalf of tea plantation workers in Assam to the World Bank’s accountability mechanism, the Compliance Advisor Ombudsman (CAO), alleging numerous violations of human and labour rights on three tea plantations owned by Amalgamated Plantations Private Limited (APPL). Assam, a state in northeast India, is the source of more than half of India’s and one sixth of the world’s tea. Such large-scale production and profit rely on thousands of workers belonging to adivasi (indigenous) communities, forcibly brought to Assam’s tea plantations from central India 150 years ago. Today their living and working conditions remain shockingly poor, with the plantations lacking adequate essential services, such as healthcare, education, and food, and workers paid only rupees 90 ($1.5) per day, far below the state’s minimum wage of rupees 169.
  • 13 February 2014

    Inquiry into Tata Tea Over Labor Issues

    By Vibhuti Agarwal, Wall Street Journal
    Nearly a year after human-rights groups complained about working and living conditions on tea plantations run by Amalgamated Plantations Private Ltd., the World Bank has ordered an inquiry. APPL, a joint venture of Tata Global Beverages and the International Finance Corp., the private-sector lending arm of the bank, employs around 30,000 people on 20 plantations in the northeastern state of Assam.
  • 12 February 2014

    ‘Abused workers toil for Tetley tea’

    By Dean Nelson, The Telegraph
    Indian tea plantation workers employed by a company that owns Tetley are paid less than £2 per day and live in inhumane conditions surrounded by cesspools, according to a report released Wednesday. The workers live in the north-east state of Assam on 24 plantations owned by a company controlled by Tata, the Indian conglomerate that also owns Jaguar Land Rover, and backed by the World Bank.
  • 12 February 2014

    World Bank to investigate its investment in tea group

    By Amy Kazmin, Financial Times
    The World Bank is launching a formal investigation of its investment into a company set up by Tata Global Beverages, maker of Tetley tea, to own and operate 24 Indian tea plantations that the Mumbai conglomerate wanted to divest. In April 2009, the International Finance Corporation, the World Bank’s private lending arm, took a 19 per cent stake in Amalgamated Plantations Private Ltd, which now runs the plantations in Assam and West Bengal previously wholly-owned by the Tata group.
  • 10 February 2014

    Keep the World Bank Accountable

    By Natalie Bridgeman Fields, Accountability Counsel
    The World Bank is in the midst of an accountability crisis: over one billion people who live in poverty may lose their right to an independent hearing if they are harmed by a Bank-funded project. The Bank aims to serve the world’s poorest, but their projects can have negative consequences…
  • 5 February 2014

    U.S. Development Agency Plans Review of Renewable Energy Project in Liberia

    By Rick Mitchell, Bloomberg BNA
    The U.S. Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) intends to review the outcome of an OPIC-funded renewable energy project in Liberia that has led to allegations that the project caused environmental, economic, and other harm to farmers, charcoal producers and workers, a spokesman for the agency told Bloomberg BNA.
  • 31 January 2014

    After Abuses, Liberians Demand Action from U.S. Government

    By Sarah Singh, Accountability Counsel, for WITNESS
    On January 22, 2014, hundreds of Liberians filed a complaint with a U.S. federal agency demanding accountability for its funding of a biomass project that caused serious human rights, labor and environmental abuses, including sexual abuse by company employees of local women.  
  • 30 January 2014

    Liberians seek redress for environmental, labor and human rights harms allegedly caused by U.S.-backed development project

    By International Justice Resource Center
    Liberian farmers, charcoal producers and workers are seeking redress before the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) for the economic, social and environmental harms allegedly caused by a development project in which OPIC invested.
  • 23 January 2014

    U.S. Agency Accused of Safeguards Failure in Liberia Investment

    By Carey L. Biron, Inter Press Service New Agency
    WASHINGTON, Jan 23 2014 (IPS) – Hundreds of Liberians have filed a complaint accusing a U.S. government agency of failure to carry out due diligence or ensure that safeguards were followed for investments made to a failed biomass project in Liberia.
  • 20 December 2013

    Follow the Leader? Why Social Entrepreneurs Must Collaborate

    By Kathleen Kelly Janus, Board Chair, Accountability Counsel
    The fast approaching January 6th deadline for applications for the Echoing Green Fellowship, which awards the founders of socially innovative organizations up to $90,000 in funding, prompts me to wonder: Are we actually thwarting potential by putting too much stock in the individual, as opposed to rewarding collaborative forms leadership?
  • 5 November 2013

    Mongolia Copper Mine at Oyu Tolgoi Tests Water Supply and Young Democracy

    By Keith Schneider, Circle of Blue
    KHANBOGD, Mongolia – Though it is well before noon, the hot light of the South Gobi desert sun punches through the ventilation openings at the peak of Byambasuren’s white ger. The door of her teepee-like home, a single round room built of felt and canvas, is open to a dirt compound surrounded by a fence made of rough-cut wood. Beyond that, cattle and horses churn a small grid of unpaved streets to powder. Herders on foot follow behind, their features obscure in yellow clouds of dust. Byambasuren’s ger lies 700 kilometers (434 miles) from Ulaanbataar, Mongolia’s capital. The trip overland is mostly on hard-packed dirt roads and takes 15 hours across treeless steppes and sand. Much of the world’s second largest desert remains remote from the world, even forbidding. That is not the case for Byambasuren, a young herder and mother, or for Khanbogd, an expanding livestock and desert town in Omnogovi, Mongolia’s largest province, which lies along the border with China.
  • 14 August 2013

    A Tank of Warm Water Brews A New Development Tea in Mongolia’s South Gobi Desert

    By Keith Schneider, Modeshift
    KHAN BOGH, Mongolia — “And this,” says Battsengel Lkhamdoorov, a South Gobi herder who once managed 600 animals, “is our new spring.” Laughing, he lifted the lid of a brown steel box, its hard lines unusual in a landscape of layered sand and rounded clouds. The tank rests on four metal legs, contains about 1,000 gallons of water, is filled twice a week, and is small enough to fit in the bed of a pickup. It’s located along the south fence guarding the 80-square-kilometer Oyu Tolgoi hard rock copper, gold, and molybdenum mine.
  • 19 April 2013

    In Human Rights, What Does ‘Access to Remedy’ Really Mean?

    By Natalie Bridgeman Fields, Accountability Counsel
    Since founding Accountability Counsel nearly four years ago, we have been working to ensure that communities around the world have “access to nonjudicial remedy” to address conflicts with corporations. After years working as a human rights and environmental litigator, I started Accountability Counsel out of the belief that courts are not always the best venues to address such conflicts. Litigation is not an option for many of our clients, who face barriers to accessing courts that include corruption, financial hurdles, and the need for immediate action to address harms. Insufficient laws addressing corporate accountability are an impediment as well, made more so with the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling this week in Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum. And even when litigation is an option, nonjudicial mechanisms can sometimes prove a more effective route in resolving disputes.
  • 14 December 2012

    The World Bank’s climate hypocrisy

    By Kate Sheppard, Mother Jones, in The Guardian
    It’s enough to give you whiplash. Last month, the World Bank put out a devastating new report on why 4 degrees Celsius of global warming “simply must not be allowed to occur.” This month, the Bank is considering whether to provide financing for a new coal-fired power plant in Mongolia. The World Bank Group’s private funding arm, International Finance Corporation, is considering support for the Oyu Tolgoi copper and gold mine project in the South Gobi Desert, a project that also includes a 750 megawatt coal plant. Read the full article here.
  • 30 November 2012

    Mining Saps a Thirsty Desert

    By Michelle Tolson, IPS News
    The Oyu Tolgoi copper-gold mine in the southern Gobi desert in Mongolia has become a symbol of a looming crisis: a limited water supply that could be exhausted within a decade, seriously threatening the lives and livelihoods of the local population.
  • 18 November 2012

    Los líos de la nueva terminal en Bogotá

    By Santiago Valenzuela, El Espectador
    Informes de la Secretaría de Ambiente y de la Alcaldía Local de Fontibón revelan aumento de ruido en la localidad. Los vecinos aseguran que la ampliación del aeropuerto los ha perjudicado.
  • 5 October 2012

    Mongolia: Environment Pays Price for Infrastructure Inefficiencies

    By Pearly Jacob, Eurasianet
    Mirage-like, a slinky piece of asphalt appears on the horizon after hours of driving across the dusty Gobi Desert. What’s coming into sight is the only paved surface for miles around. Yet many trucks are driving alongside the new highway, not on it.
  • 19 June 2012

    Executive Director Natalie Fields Featured in Elle Magazine’s 2012 Genius Awards

    By Elle Magazine
    Accountability Counsel’s Executive Director, Natalie Bridgeman Fields, was featured in the July 2012 edition of Elle Magazine. Elle presented Natalie with a ‘Genius Award’ for her work with Accountability Counsel. Natalie shares this award with the staff, Law Fellows, interns, pro bono lawyers, donors and supporters who make Accountability Counsel’s work possible.