Why Red Flags?

The Cases

FAQ about business and international crimes

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In the interests of accuracy, the summaries of cases referred to under each Red Flag are based wherever possible on the available court documents or other public legal sources.

The contents and documents of this web site are intended for learning purposes only and do not constitute legal advice or opinion. www.redflags.info is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.

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"The Red Flags are an indispensable tool alerting companies to risks that may contribute to serious human rights abuses--enabling them to change their plans before harm occurs."

Professor John Ruggie, UN SRSG for Business and Human Rights

Why Red Flags?

Red Flags is an attempt to communicate, in simple, clear terms, the changing nature of liability risk, based on the latest research into recent case law. It provides a guide for law-abiding companies as to how the expectations for compliance are changing.

A Red Flag is a warning of heightened risk. The Red Flags pamphlet and web site provide basic information about the potential for litigation, based on actual legal actions involving businesses or business people and international crimes. Drawing on publicly available information concerning past or present case law, these Red Flags are intended as warnings of liability risk.

The Red Flags pamphlet and web site seek to help companies avoid participation in the worst forms of human rights abuse and more broadly to strengthen the global trend towards accountability for such participation. The pamphlet and web site can be used by company compliance officers, legal counsel, risk analysts and others as part of their due diligence activities to avoid company participation in such crimes, or by communities affected by company activities seeking to better understand what their rights may be. Both the pamphlet and the web site can be used by governments in providing advice to companies operating high-risk zones, such as war zones and repressive regimes, and by practitioners seeking a starting point into state practice on these issues. It may also be useful for researchers looking for information on developments in domestic and international laws.

The Red Flags are the result of a collaborative effort by an informal group of lawyers, researchers and diplomats from several countries, including Don Hubert, Mora Johnson, Gerald Pachoud, Anita Ramasastry, Mark Taylor, Robert Thompson, and Salil Tripathi. Research was conducted by Mark Taylor, with help from Mora Johnson and Salil Tripathi. A legal review was conducted by Professor Anita Ramasastry. The Government of Canada and the Ford Foundation provided financial support for research, legal review and publication of the Red Flags. The Red Flags guide draws on wider research on business liability questions conducted by the Fafo Institute for International Studies, Oslo, under the title Business and International Crimes led by Mark Taylor, and Karen Ballentine, Professor Anita Ramasastry and Robert Thompson and a network of practicing lawyers in 16 countries. The project received financial support over several years from the Governments of Canada, Switzerland, Norway and The Ford Foundation. Publication of the Red Flags guide was a joint effort by

Court in Ecuador Hands Down Landmark Decision Against Chevron
An Ecuadoran judge has ordered Chevron to pay US$ 9 billion for environmental damages in the country's Amazon region. The landmark decision comes after a titanic legal battle for years in both US and Ecuadoran courts and marks what experts are calling the largest order for environmental damages every issued by a court.
Governments Must Remove Barriers to Corporate Accountability says new report
A report out this week from Fafo, Amnesty International, and the Norwegian Peacebuilding Centre identifies obstacles to judicial remedies for business involvement in human rights abuses and sets out a series of reforms. The report argues governments need to take urgent action.
Veolia divests under public and legal pressure
Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz reports the French transport company Veolia is pulling out of a controversial light rail project in Jerusalem. A French court agreed in 2009 to hear a lawsuit brought against Veolia and Alstom by solidarity activists who argue the project is in violation of international law. Veolia had gone to court in Sweden after a decision by Stockholm authorities to end its 3.5 billion Euro contract running the city's public transport system. Human Rights organisations say the decision may have been influenced by Veolia's involvement in projects in the occupied West Bank.
Expert Legal Panel Report on Corporate Complicity in International Crimes Released
The International Commission of Jurists Expert Legal Panel on Corporate Complicity in International Crimes released its report 16 September, after more than two years of work. The three volume report deals with the legal and public policy meaning of corporate complicity (accomplice liability) in the worst violations of international human rights and humanitarian law that amount to international crimes.
Chief Justice calls for enforcement
Mr. Justice Ian Binnie of the Supreme Court of Canada told lawyers with the Canadian Corporate Counsel Association that they should work to convince their employers to close the gap with respect to multinational corporations and human rights. Chief Justice Binnie said “An effective enforcement mechanism operates not just for the protesters, but for the companies so that these allegations can be nailed down and responded to in an effective way.”
UN endoreses framework for business and human rights
The UN's John Ruggie presented his framework "Protect, Respect and Remedy" to the UN Human Rights Council in June 2008. You can find all the key materials, including the report and responses, at his web page hosted at the Business and Human Rights Resource Centre.
Red Flags Launched in London 23 May
International Alert and the Fafo Institute for Applied International Studies launched the Red Flags guide and web site 23 May at a seminar in London.
UN calls on states to strenghten regulation of companies in conflict zones
"The hardware used in conflict, including guns, tanks and landmines, is produced and sold by private companies, and when such tools of war are cheaply and widely available, they become a hazard to peace." The Secretary General's report on Conflict Prevention in Africa (January 2008) calls on states to do more to "to strengthen the international regulatory framework".
Companies should obey the law in lawless lands
National laws are slowly becoming tools for protecting human rights worldwide. Mark Taylor explains in 'The Lawyer'.
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