On September 22-27, in a small beach town near the port of Suape (Pernambuco, Brazil), representatives of various Brazilian NGOs and communities came together to exchange knowledge and information, decide on their strategy and build capacity in the use of grievance mechanisms to defend their human rights. The 5-day event was organised by Fair, Green and Global Alliance partners Both ENDS and SOMO, working together with the Brazilian Fórum Suape.
The event functioned to solidify cooperation among local Brazilian NGOs working to hold multinationals accountable for the adverse social and environmental impacts of their activities in the region. It also gave these NGOs an opportunity to increase their knowledge of various human rights frameworks and related grievance mechanisms.
Gathering practical experience
Using the disastrous extension of the Suape harbor as a case study during the workshops, participants were able to acquire very practical skills and received advice from experts. They learned how these grievance mechanisms – especially the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises and the system of National Contact Points (NCP) – can be utilised to tackle violations of human rights and damages to the environment. Human rights violations were also in the spotlight as they reviewed two large dredging projects by the Dutch family-owned company Van Oord. These two projects were carried out with an export credit insurance issued by Atradius DSB on behalf of the Dutch government.
OECD Watch Case Check
The training programme also included using the OECD Watch Case Check, which has now also been translated into Spanish. This tool gives an indication whether it is possible and appropriate to use the OECD Guidelines complaints procedure in your specific situation. The Case Check also provides insights into the specific OECD Guidelines that could be applicable, at which NCP you can file a complaint, and which considerations should be made in advance of filing. The event was given an extra impulse due to the fact that a representative of the Brazilian NCP, participated actively in the workshop, giving specific advice, answering questions, and preparing participants for the actual process they will encounter if they file a complaint.
Preparing a specific complaint
At the end of the workshop, members of the Fórum Suape formed a working group to prepare a specific complaint against Van Oord and Atradius DSB, seeing as both can be held accountable for failure to observe the OECD Guidelines in their activities related to Suape.
Read more background information about the situation in the Suape harbour. Visit the website of the