The driving principles behind the corporate sector accountability initiatives across the world taken up by the civil society organizations are to protect the rights of the people affected by business initiatives and strengthen accountability and transparency in the corporate sectors in line with international best practices.
However, it is not necessary to perceive the relationship between corporate and communities as essentially an antagonistic one. Financial and political power notwithstanding, many business houses realize that the risks associated with poor relations with the stakeholders in any project– and the opportunities provided by constructive ones –need to be better understood and captured in project planning and implementation. While there is perhaps an overwhelming confidence that political connections will see them through, it is a fact that companies that grasp the importance of actively developing and sustaining relationships with affected communities and other stakeholders throughout the life of their project, can reap the benefits of improved risk management and better outcomes on the ground. As approaches to consultation and disclosure change from a short-term means of meeting regulatory and lender requirements, to a longer-term, more strategic channel for relationship-building, risk mitigation, and new business identification, new approaches and forms of engagement are evolving.
In general some best practices can be put together that can ensure that the civil society can exercise a greater control over the corporate:
· Make it mandatory for the corporate to engage civil society organizations in the impact assessment studies. The civil society, on their part should guarantee collective and fair representation of the affected communities. Ensure consultation with adversely affected individuals, communities and indigenous people to guarantee a thorough analysis of the problem and identify meaningful solutions and to give greater visibility to those whose rights are negatively affected by business.
· Initiate an inter-governmental process for the adoption of global standards on business and human rights, in conjunction with ongoing conceptual and policy discussions. Establish a broader mandate on business and human rights that includes an explicit capacity of the civil society to examine real life instances of business abuse so that the views, experiences and expertise of those affected by business-related abuses fully inform the effort to identify appropriate solutions. Enhance accountability and capacity of governments to fulfill their obligation to protect the people.
· Intensify efforts to strengthen redress and accountability to guarantee that individuals and communities have the capacity to defend their rights and that those responsible are held to account.
· Engage the media and the internet based social networking to create awareness about the issues and generate public opinion and pressure.
What are the components of a good working relationship between the corporate sector and the civil society?