From October 30 to November 1, 2014, Indian grassroots organizers, civil society representatives and activists came together with practitioners specializing in using grievance mechanisms as part of the “Workshop on Grievance Mechanisms to address Business & Human Rights in India.” This workshop was organized by Cividep India, with support from Accountability Counsel. Participants saw a lively exchange of diverse perspectives and knowledge on using grievance mechanisms to address business-related human rights abuses.
First-hand accounts were shared regarding the pursuit of remedy and accountability for indigenous tea garden workers in Assam for labour rights violations, mining workers in Rajasthan suffering from severe silicosis due to breaches of occupational safety standards, local communities in Odisha affected by mega mining projects and related conflict, and the victims of the infamous 1984 Bhopal chemical disaster, among other cases.
Through these accounts and other presentations by practitioners, the workshop raised awareness about domestic legal avenues, international-level grievance mechanisms and multi-stakeholder initiatives that could potentially be used to protect against and provide remedy for corporate-related human rights abuses. Participants also heard from Mr. J.S. Kochher, Joint Secretary for research and training at India’s National Human Rights Commission, who presented on the commission’s work relevant to business and human rights.
During the workshop, the participants brainstormed how to effectively use grievance mechanisms to achieve access to remedy, equipped themselves using the experiences shared by their peers, and connected with resources needed for their work in improving lives and the environment harmed by business-related human rights abuses.