Today SOMO presents a new briefing paper on the current landscape of non-judicial grievance mechanisms during a side event of the Third Annual Forum on Business and Human Rights in Geneva. The object is to discuss non-judicial grievance mechanisms at international financial institutions (IFIs).
The purpose of this briefing note is to describe the current patchwork of existing NJGMs and how they function, identify their limitations, and provide recommendations for improving them.
Business can become implicated in human rights violations in various ways, by causing, contributing or being directly linked to the abuse. There is a pressing need for states in both home and host countries of multinational companies to ensure access to effective domestic judicial mechanisms for those affected by business-related human rights abuses. At present, however, judicial avenues for obtaining remedy for business-related harm are often not a viable option. In the vacuum, non-judicial grievance mechanisms (NJGMs) have proliferated.
In an ideal world, NJGMs would supplement judicial mechanisms. The reality is that in many jurisdictions judicial remedies are ineffective or non-existent, and NJGMs are in practice the only option for those affected by business-related human rights abuse. It is, therefore, of great importance to strengthen the accessibility and effectiveness of such mechanisms.
NJGMs vary in form and scope – the issues they address, the standards they apply, the companies within their jurisdiction, how they function, their authority and governance. Complaints may be filed by the victims of business-related human rights violations (such as directly affected workers, communities or individuals) and/or by the civil society organisations directly or in representation of others, depending on the specific requirements of each mechanism. And, importantly, the outcomes each mechanism delivers varies greatly.