Jason Proetorius, Editor-in-Chief
The Corporate Human Rights Impact Assessment:
Top-Down and Bottom-Up
Margo Tatgenhorst Drakos
The rise of Western, particularly American, power in the twentieth century has been closely wedded to the ascendancy of extractive industries, chiefly oil, mining, and gas. Extractive projects, conducted by consortiums of multinational corporations (MNCs), have projected Western power and influence around the globe while providing the vital resources to fuel Western industrial and military might. The superior technology possessed by Western MNCs throughout much of the past hundred years has allowed them to maintain a monopoly over these resources. The extractive industry’s role as a de facto extension of Western power and influence has made the success of these companies a vital concern to American and European policymakers. However, the benefits of extractive industry investment, production, and development have come at the expense of many of the host states where business is conducted. The world’s most corrupt and least developed countries, such as Angola, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Myanmar, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, and Sudan, contain some of the world’s most valuable natural resources. Revenue from resource extraction in the developing world has enabled regimes to derive their power from the natural riches of the earth rather than constituencies of their countrymen, which thereby undermines the emergence of democracy. In the developing world, an oil-producing country is twice as likely to suffer internal rebellion as a non-oil-producing one. In theory, the revenue generated from these commodities has the potential to elevate developing countries out of poverty and thus minimize the cycles of conflict and humanitarian disasters commonly found in the developing world. In reality, extractive projects frequently adversely affect the environment and disrupt the local economic and social fabric, which potentiates poverty, disease, and conflict.
On August 3, 2006 Bolivian President Evo Morales, standing in front of a backdrop of fifty Venezuelan tractors just donated to Bolivian farmers, outlined his next ambitious policy reform: a plan to redistribute unused private land to members of the impoverished indigenous class. The Morales government has since pursued an aggressive strategy to redistribute approximately one-fifth of Bolivia’s land—totaling 49 million acres of private and public holdings—over the next five years. On January 29, 2009, 61 percent of Bolivians voted for a new Constitution that will give greater political rights to indigenous groups and limit the size of future landholdings to 5,000 hectares while allowing the government to expropriate land that does not perform a “social function” or was fraudulently obtained, allowing the Morales administration a possible legal avenue for the reclamation and redistribution of large, private landholdings.
With civilians functioning as both “militarized” actors and strategic targets in modern-day conflicts, the relief activities of humanitarian organizations in war-torn regions have become increasingly politicized. Factions targeting civilians view any kind of aid to these civilian “opponents” as supporting the enemy. These factions see the provision of resources and assistance to those in need as materially supporting, and therefore taking a side in, the conflict.
The Mexico City Policy and Its Consequences for Refugees
A. Elise Letanosky
Each year, 19 million women risk their lives to undergo unsafe abortions because the procedure is illegal, severely restricted, or difficult to access. Of women who undergo unsafe abortions, as many as 80 percent face illness, injury, or disability. Globally, unsafe abortions account for approximately 68,000 deaths annually and 13 percent of all pregnancy-related deaths. As alarming as these global statistics are, the situation for refugees and internally displaced women is especially dire due to lack of access to proper facilities and services. Since refugees and internally displaced persons are in similar positions with regard to reproductive health and unsafe abortions, this paper will refer to both populations as “refugees.” A 1999 report by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) estimates that “25 to 50 per-cent of maternal deaths in refugee settings are due to complications resulting from unsafe abortions.” In addition, many who survive live with the effects of severe complications, including incomplete abortion, sepsis, hemorrhage, and intra-abdominal injury or long-term health problems such as chronic pelvic inflammatory disease, tubal blockage, or secondary infertility.
On April 26, 2007, the small Baltic state of Estonia experienced the first wave of denial-of-service (DoS) attacks. Accompanied by riots in the streets, these cyberattacks were launched as a protest against the Estonian government’s removal of the Bronze Soldier monument in Tallinn, a Soviet war monument erected in 1947. These attacks targeted prominent government websites along with the websites of banks, universities, and Estonian newspapers. After three weeks, the attacks ceased as suddenly as they had begun, but not before the Estonian government undertook measures to block all international web traffic, effectively shutting off the “most wired country in Europe” from the rest of the world.