29 organisations from 17 countries gathered in Brno (Czech Republic) on the 29th and 30th April for ECCJ’s General Assembly 2015. This year the event was hosted by ECCJ Czech member Frank Bold. We welcomed a wide range of external organisations, including the newly created African Coalition for Corporate Justice, the International Trade Union Confederation and Shift, setting the foundation for future collaboration.

Due diligence confirmed as the priority for ECCJ

Human rights due diligence is a central concept of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, addressing both prevention (avoiding harm from happening) and remedies (addressing abuses when they have occurred). The meeting confirmed this was the next big issue for the coalition.

Many ECCJ members plan in the years to come to push for the introduction of mandatory due diligence at the national level. Following the successful campaign of ECCJ’s French member, which resulted in the adoption by the French parliament of a legal requirement for companies to conduct due diligence, the Swiss Coalition for Corporate Justice launched a popular initiative* to introduce a similar rule in Switzerland.

Corporate transparency, access to justice, regional and international processes are also on the agenda for 2015

ECCJ will continue following the implementation of the non-financial reporting directive; explore opportunities for a European directive on collective redress (class actions) and access to evidence to improve obstacles encountered by victims when seeking justice. ECCJ will also monitor the review of the Rome II Regulation (rule of jurisdiction) to assess if protection and compensation for the victims of corporate abuses could be improved.

As regards processes, ECCJ will continue pushing for robust implementation of the UNGPs and participate in the negotiations around the Council of Europe’s non-binding instrument on business and human rights. ECCJ will follow the review of the European corporate social responsibility strategy. In parallel, ECCJ will support members’ activities on the business and human rights treaty.

The Swiss Coalition for Corporate Justice joins ECCJ steering group
The steering group elections were held, and the Swiss Coalition for Corporate Justice joins for the first time the seven other members which were re-elected (the current members were Friends of the Earth Europe, International Federation of Human Rights, the CORE Coalition, Frank Bold, Germanwatch representing CorA, Sherpa for the French citizens’ forum on CSR and the MVO Platform).

A report is available upon request.

* In the Swiss political system, a popular initiative leads to a binding referendum if the initiators manage to collect 100,000 signatures within 18 months.