Departure letter from our outgoing director, Claudia Saller
December 12th, 2022
by Claudia Saller

When I started as the organisation’s Coordinator back in January 2018, ECCJ already had a proud history of strong coalition and movement building for legislation on corporate accountability. It had an undisputed reputation of providing concise legal and policy advice and clear ideas of what this binding legislation should look like. It was my task to take this success story further.

When I joined, ECCJ had an Advocacy and Communications Officer and a Policy Assistant. Today, it is a team of eight and counting, and they are truly the best team I could ever imagine. Over the past five years, we also grew our annual income fivefold to just over 1 million euros. With this growth came increased responsibility. My title changing from Coordinator to Director General was just one of the more visible side effects.

I feel very proud that the team and I were able to live up to the expectations and meet a variety of challenges head-on. The successes of ECCJ’s advocacy work are evident. Together with members, partners, and allies, we called for corporate human rights and environmental due diligence, and in February 2022, we saw two Commissioners finally presenting a proposal for a Directive on Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence. Complementary pieces of legislation were published, too, the main ones concerning deforestation, batteries, corporate reporting, and products made with forced labour. The question of how corporations can be held responsible for their impact on human rights and the environment had become a serious public issue which European decision-makers can no longer ignore .ECCJ’s place is still at the heart of the Business and Human Rights community.

ECCJ’s strength is not only its excellent team in Brussels, but also its dedicated member organisations who bring a broad spectrum of civil society groups from across Europe together, fusing many different approaches, philosophies, and ways of working into a movement. Parallel advocacy and campaigning work at the national and EU levels has certainly accelerated our wins.

Our ability to collaborate closely with other likeminded organisations is another valuable element of our strategy that should not be taken for granted. On the contrary, all these relationships need to be nurtured with care.

I am confident that ECCJ will continue its successful path. Many challenges lie ahead, from making sure that legislation is transposed and comes to life at the national level to strengthening corporate accountability for the climate crisis. I will keep following these developments from afar and carry the learnings from my time in ECCJ, for which I am incredibly grateful, to any future positions I will hold.

I would like to thank everyone I had the privilege to work with and without whom I wouldn’t have been able to fulfill my role. That includes the team, the board, the member organisations, our European and international partners, as well as our funders. I am honoured and grateful for all your support, advice, trust, and collaborative spirit.

When the going gets tough, remember that back in 2006, when ECCJ was founded, corporate accountability felt like a utopian idea. In a way, it still was in 2018. But not anymore. Today, this idea is unstoppable.