abuses continue without accountability
July 30, 2020 2:55 PM   Subscribe

Institute for Multi-Stakeholder Initiative Integrity's new report Not Fit-For-Purpose concludes that multi-stakeholder initiatives (MSIs) to certify food or consumer products as “sustainable,” “fair,” or “ethical” have failed because (1) they were neither designed nor operated to be rights holder-centric, and (2) the inclusion of corporations in the initiatives entrenched the power imbalance between stakeholders such that key drivers of abuse went unaddressed.

When MSIs emerged in the 1990s, they were considered a potentially transformative experiment in global governance. The premise: to address human rights abuses, corporations would collaborate with the very same organizations that had been previously criticizing them for causing and exacerbating those harms.

After a decade of researching voluntary efforts by corporations to address human rights violations, MSI Integrity is changing its mission to go Beyond Corporations:
Currently, boards of directors are legally prohibited from prioritizing community or societal interests above the financial interests of shareholders. The board, executive management, and shareholders, do not directly experience the on-the-ground consequences of corporate decisions. They are not the people who live near or work in the mine sites, farmland, or factories where the repercussions of business practices reverberate. This means that decision makers in a corporation are neither structurally situated nor primarily motivated to consider human rights impacts.
Radio interview with MSI Integrity's director Amelia Evans.
posted by spamandkimchi (5 comments total) 23 users marked this as a favorite
From Key Insights section:
A number of CSOs [civil society organizations] have withdrawn from individual MSIs over concerns about inaction, ineffectiveness, and the resources they consume. There are now well-documented instances in which MSIs have failed to detect or remedy human rights abuses.

Almost a third of MSIs do not have a grievance mechanism, and therefore, do not provide individuals or communities with the ability to seek remedy for rights violations.

Nearly all of the MSI grievance mechanisms we studied fail to meet internationally recognized criteria for access to effective remedy as they are not accessible, predictable, equitable, transparent, rights-compatible or a source of continuous learning.
posted by spamandkimchi at 2:59 PM on July 30 [4 favorites]

Currently, boards of directors are legally prohibited from prioritizing community or societal interests above the financial interests of shareholders.

I don't think this is actually true*. Naked capitalism has an entire article debunking this.

posted by dopeypanda at 3:09 PM on July 30 [4 favorites]

Does this mean we don't have to overpay for "organic fair-trade ethically sustainable" coffee beans now?
posted by Chickenring at 4:33 PM on July 30

Certifications done by organizations that are led by farmers and environmental advocates are still legit, if imperfect like all certifications. It's the corporate "multistakeholder" ones that are suspicious as hell.
posted by spamandkimchi at 5:39 PM on July 30 [7 favorites]

Just my frustration with the language needed to describe what is going on here takes me back, with some urgency, to my initial dismay at the distance between the language of doing good and the people or ecologies it is supposed to benefit.
posted by dmh at 6:52 PM on July 30 [5 favorites]

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