Together with all fourteen civil society and labour union representatives, Inter Pares has tendered its resignation from the government’s Multi-Stakeholder Advisory Body on Responsible Business Conduct Abroad (Advisory Body). The decision to resign en masse from the Advisory Body is due to the erosion of civil society and labour unions’ trust and confidence in the government’s commitment to international corporate accountability.
In January 2018, Inter Pares took on the position as alternate member to the Advisory Body with the expectation that it would prove to be a productive forum of mutual trust and collaboration to provide advice to the Minister of International Trade and Global Affairs Canada on matters related to business and human rights.
The federal government’s backtracking on commitments made in the January 2018 announcement of the Canadian Ombudsperson for Responsible Enterprise (CORE) has amounted to a betrayal of trust, erosion of confidence, and belief that the government has not acted in good faith during consultations on this topic.
In this context, Inter Pares has lost faith in the ability of the Advisory Body to function as originally envisioned and in accordance with its agreed-upon terms of reference.
Inter Pares has been engaged in strategizing and advocating for an independent ombudsperson for over a decade. During that time, thousands of Inter Pares supporters have spoken up on behalf of communities in the Global South suffering from human rights abuses associated with Canadian companies. In April of this year, Inter Pares was dismayed when the federal government reneged on its promise and commitment to install an Ombudsperson with robust powers to investigate abuses and redress the human rights violations associated with Canadian corporations operating abroad. We stand firmly by our call that an effective Ombudsperson must be arms-length from government, and have the power to order those under investigation to produce documents and testimony under oath.