Corporate social responsibility

Oil spill
Déversement © Annie Girard

The World Bank defines Corporate social responsibility (CSR) as "the commitment of businesses to contribute to sustainable economic development by working with employees, their families, the local community and society at large to improve their lives in ways that are good for business and for development."


In other words companies adhere to law, ethical standards, and international norms. Business embraces responsibility for the impact of their activities on the environment, consumers, employees, communities, stakeholders and all other members of the public sphere and does not only consider the economic benefits of its shareholders. Furthermore, business promotes the public interest by encouraging community growth and development, and voluntarily eliminating practices that harm the public sphere, regardless of legality. Essentially, CSR is the inclusion of public interest into corporate decision-making.

Human Rights, Business as usual?

tl_files/aefjn-images/im_epas/im_csr/Nigeriaoilspill.jpgInternational corporations have been important economic agents driving economic globalization as they trade goods and services across continents. This has led to a massive revenue increase for companies, some topping the GDP of several countries. Given their position in international trade and the sheer volume of goods and services traded they are likely to be creating externalities, for instance disrupting the socio-economic fabric of a country and the health of the planet. On several occasions irresponsible company behaviour has called into question the social, economic, environmental and human rights responsibilities of international corporations. In the field of business and human rights, there is a growing movement to control the human rights impact of businesses, principally through voluntary codes of conduct and more businesses are taking up a HR-due diligence approach.  However, there is also a movement to go beyond voluntary frameworks to create a legally binding instrument in the field of business and human rights. Read more

Conflict Minerals: three-way discussions on the current state of affairs

The Dutch Presidency intends to conclude discussions on conflict minerals within its mandate. In May 2015, the European Parliament (EP) voted in favour of a binding mechanism for monitoring the supply chain of minerals from conflict zones. The proposal is ambitious because it requires not only importers of minerals and smelters and refineries to source responsibly but also manufacturers of semi-finished and finished / manufactured goods such as mobile phones, PCs and washing machines to ensure that the minerals in their products are not supplied to armed groups.


Taking this stance, the EP negotiators have begun a dialogue with negotiators from the member state governments who are generally in favour of just a voluntary system. By contrast, the European Commission wishes to set itself up as facilitator, proposing the following compromise: a binding regulation for importers of minerals; in other words, for just one section of the supply chain, the ‘upstream’ section. Nevertheless, Parliament is insisting on a more ambitious framework – which is encouraging.


The three-way discussions will probably resume in April – so stay tuned!


1505 AEFJN Welcomes decision of the European Parliament on Conflict Minerals

AEFJN welcomes the vote of 20 May in the European Parliament, adopting mandatory requirements throughout the whole supply chain of products containing minerals and/or their derived metals from conflict areas. All companies sourcing tantalum, tungsten, tin and gold (3TGs) as raw material or in (semi-) finished products will henceforth be obliged to conduct due diligence to make sure that their products do not finance armed groups or contribute to human rights violations. For this purpose companies importing, transforming and commercializing these minerals and metals will have to report on measures taken to identify and remedy risks in their supply chains. Read more



140127 AFRICA’S DIRTY DIAMONDS - January 2014

Created in 2000 by the UN, the Kimberley Process is responsible for ensuring that diamond sales do not finance conflicts as was the case in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Angola and the RDC in the 1990s (see film Blood Diamonds). When they met in Johannesburg in November 2013, the diamond producers refuse to move towards greater transparency in the Kimberley Process. In 2011, the organisation Global Witness had already denounced the lack of transparency regarding Zimbabwe. Indeed, in 2009, the Zimbabwean army had had brutally seized the diamond fields of Marangue, expelling the small producers, killing hundreds of miners and forcing several tens of thousands of people to move away. 


Read more

130722 Oil Industries in Ghana


Ghana is richly endowed with mineral resources. It is the second largest producer of cocoa in the world and one of the largest in gold. The gold industry contributes more than 90% of total mineral revenues; timber, tuna, bauxite, aluminium, manganese ore and diamonds are other important exports. Ghana has also extensive arable land, forests, fishing and hydroelectric potential. Ghana has maintained a fairly stable political atmosphere, the right and freedoms of individuals are respected as stipulated in the constitution. 

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The World Bank - a major player in land grabbing

In most African countries the rush for land has been well prepared by the World Bank Group, through its investment promotion agencies that focus on helping investors. They have played an essential role in facilitating land grabbing in developing countries. The World Bank advised in the drafting of bills that would allow investors greater investment mobility. With these benefits provided to foreign investors, it is no surprise that interest in African land markets has increased in recent years. Read more

The exploitation of natural resources and land grabbing

The global need of land and its resources like water, plants, timber or minerals is continually increasing. This leads governments and private investors to look for cheap resource-rich land close to infrastructure. The land is often taken from farmers who are the traditional users. Extractive industries are part of this phenomenon. Concessions are smaller but extraction activities cause ecological catastrophes in the surrounding area and accelerate climate change. As a result, the land seized from local users becomes unusable. Read more

Capital Flight and its impact on Africa

According to estimates, every year US$ 1.26 trillion - 1.44 trillion disappears without a trace from developing countries, ending up in tax havens or rich countries. The main part of this is driven by multinational companies seeking to evade tax where they operate. The sum that leaves developing countries each year as unreported financial outflows, amounts to ten times the annual global aid flows and twice the amount of debt developing countries repay each year. Read more

Ogoniland Oil Spills clean up will take up to 30 years

The environmental restoration of Ogoniland could prove to be the world's most wide-ranging and long term oil clean-up exercise ever undertake. A major new scientific assessment, carried out by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), shows that pollution from over 50 years of oil operations in the region has penetrated further and deeper than many may have supposed. the report estimates that countering and cleaning up the pollution and catalyzing a sustainable recovery of Ogoniland could take 25 to 30 years. Read more

The Logbaba Gas Field in Douala and the concerns of the local residents

Logbaba Gas Field
Logbaba Gas Field

The Logbaba on-shore gas field is situated in the Ndogpassi district in Douala. Rodeo Development Limited, a subsidiary entirely owned by the British Victoria Oil and Gas,  started exploratory drillings in 2009. The exploratory phase has in the meantime ended and in April 2011 a presidential decree authorized the beginning of the commercial exploitation of the gas. Locals complain that they are still waiting for compensation for their land and for a resettlement plan. Read more


The Resource Curse

@Eric Feferberg

The resource curse has befallen many resource rich countries like DRC or Nigeria.  This is fuelled by a lethal mix of corrupt and incompetent authorities, rebel groups wanting their share of the revenue from the natural resources and Western companies shamelessly making deals with both of them to secure access to these precious resources, impervious to the impact of their action on the local population. Read more

Let there be light - Areva in Niger

© Aghir in'Man

Its supporters describe nuclear energy as a safe, clean and green form of energy. However, generating nuclear energy requires fuel that is acquired through the destructive and deadly activity of uranium mining. Uranium mining can have catastrophic effects on nearby communities and the environment for thousands of years to come. There are few places where these harmful effects are felt more distinctly than Niger, where Areva has been mining uranium for decades. Read more

European Parliament demands inclusion of CSR in Trade Agreements

European Parliament
European Parliament

On the 25th November the European Parliament adopted a report of the French Socialist Harlem Désir, demanding the inclusion of CSR clauses into trade agreements signed by the EU. The CSR clauses should include inter alia "a requirement for companies to commit to free, open and informed prior consultation with local and independent stakeholders before a project that impacts upon a local community commences" and the trade agreement should contain provisions to "encourage transnational judicial cooperation, to facilitate access to the courts for the victims of the actions of corporations within their sphere of influence, and, with that aim in mind, to support the development of appropriate judicial procedures and sanction infringements of the law by corporations". Read more

Transparency in the Extractive Industries

Publish What You Pay

The management of the resource revenues from extractive industries in African countries is often in the hands of only a few élites, a small minority of individuals, who control the property of the state. Transnational corporations competing for access to African resources are often complicit in maintaining the rules established by those élites and help them stay in power. A series of voluntary initiatives tries to pose remedy for this lack of transparency. Read more

The Gibe III Dam in Ethiopia


In August the European Investment Bank (EIB) announced that it is no longer considering financing the controversial Gibe III Dam in Ethiopia. The Gibe III Dam is Ethiopia’s largest investment project. However its preparation was flawed. In its rush to construction, the Ethiopian government neglected to properly assess virtually every aspect of the project, violating domestic laws and international standards. The government is now seeking international financing to complete the Gibe III Dam. If it were to be completed it is likely to be an environmental and social disaster for the whole region. Read more

Eni's activities in Congo

Tar sands ©Peter Essick 2009
Tar sands ©Peter Essick 2009

In May 2008, Eni announced a new agreement for $ 3 billion investment in tar sands, palm oil for bio-diesel and electricity in Congo-Brazzaville. None of the terms of the agreements between Eni and the Congolese government have been made public because of a confidentiality clause in the contract. This goes against Eni's own ethical code. The agreement was signed without consulting the civil society in the regions involved in the agreement.


The agreement between Eni and the Congolese government foresees the extraction of tar sands in an area of 1790 square kilometres. Producing a barrel of oil extracted from tar sands generally causes an emission of greenhouse gases 3 to 5 times higher than "normal" oil extraction. Eni also continues the practice of gas flaring in the Congo. Read more