COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS
Item s 10 and 16 of the provisional agenda
ECONOMIC, SOCIAL AND CULTURAL RIGHTS
RERORT OF THE SUB -COMMISSION ON THE PROMOTION AND PROTECTION ON HUMAN RIGHTS
RESPONSIBILITIES OF TRANSNATIONAL CORPORTATIONS WITH REGARD TO
HUMAN RIGHTS: OVERSEAS CORPORATIONS OF THE REPUBLIC OF KOREA
1. We have been observing with great interest the debates regarding the responsibilities of
transnational corporations (TNCs) with regard to human rights at the United Nations, particularly
at the Sub-Commission for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights. While submitting
this written statement following our 2005 statement on responsibilities of TNCs with regard to
human rights [E/CN.4/2005/NGO/304] , we expect that more active debate and activities of the
United Nations are taking place regarding this issue. In particular, we would like to emphasize
the violations committed by overseas Korean corporations against their employees as well as the
impact of the TNCs on local human rights perspectives.
2. Currently in Korea, the Korean corporations and the government are vigorously discussing
about the ‘Corporations Social Responsibilities’ (CSR) to keep up with international trends.
However, the Korean corporations and the government are merely focusing on the corporations’
social services and welfare contribution, while ignoring the most basic factor of the CSR: the
responsibility towards laborers’ rights. We therefore call on the United Nations Commission on
Human Rights (UNCHR) to urge the TNCs and the state parties including the Republic of Korea
to stress the protection of the laborers’ rights in the ongoing discussion about the CSR.
3. In the new millennium, national boundaries no longer exist for the TNCs’ business activities.
Therefore, the principles of the CSR, particularly with regard to human rights should be equally
applied to all the areas where the TNCs are operating. In particular, those TNCs operating in
more than two countries should mention this aspect as a clause into their CSR. Even though most
of the human rights violations by the TNCs have occurred in the developing countries, the
responsibilities of the TNC’s have been unequally applied in those countries. In other words, the
TNCs have tried to avoid their responsibility regarding human rights in developing countries,
while maintaining their commitment for human rights in developed countries. Under these
circumstances, the commitment of the TNC’s to the CSR is questionable.
4. Local workers of Phils-Jeon Garment Inc., Korean corporation in Exporting Processing Zone
in the Philippines established a labor union with election and took a collective action peacefully
requesting a talk with the corporation in summer 2005. However, the corporation issued warning
to the participants of the collective action and sent a dismissal notice to the chairperson of the
labor union. At the same time, the board of directors of the corporation insisted on invalidation
of the election for establishment of the labor union and impugned to the Department of Labor
and Employment of the Philippines but rejected.
As Chunji International Phils Inc., Korean corporation in the same area made progress on the
cessation of the business in November 2005, physical violence had happened twice on January
2006 in settlement of retirement allowance and unpaid insurance. Workers worried about default
of their retirement allowance and running away of the corporation’s board of directors. While
they blocked products of the corporation carried out from the factory, the police and guards of
security agency used tear gas and flourished clubs. As a result, many workers were injured
including a pregnant woman. They have a doubt that the violence arose because the corporation,
police and security agency have been involved.
5. Local workers of Sam Han Cambodia Fabrics Co. Ltd., Korean corporation in Cambodia
demanded unpaid wage and retirement allowance to disappeared Korean President of the
corporation and the government of Cambodian in early of 2005. On February 2005, the Police
used violence for suppression against about 250 laborers who gathered for demonstration. As a
result, about 40 workers were injured and a 23-year-old worker fell into a state of coma. But the
most of injured workers are not afford to go to hospital because of the poverty caused by unpaid
6. Daewoo International, Korean corporation and KOGAS (Korea Gas Corporation) which is a
public company have invested in natural gas development of Myanmar. A number of NGOs have
continuously revealed to international society and United Nations, especially the issue of forced
labor, forced eviction and sexual violence by Myanmar soldiers. The cases of UNOCAL and
TOTAL, TNCs, reported human rights violations were very serious during their gas
development. As we have learned current human rights situation in Myanmar and the precedent
cases, preliminary measures to protect human rights of local people are needed before
investment and development of transnational corporations. We demand that the Commission
urge strongly for TNCs including Korean companies and UN member countries including
Korean government to take responsibilities with regard to human rights on foreign direct
investment and establish effective measures as soon as possible.
7. Finally, facing human rights violation involved with TNCs, we stress again the necessity of
making measure quickly. We consider one of the most important roles of the Commission is to
prepare preliminary measures to protect human rights. It is too late to demand compliance with
human rights after violations happened. TNCs should estimate the influence of social and human
rights when operating in regions before investment and establish preventive measures. The need
of estimating the influence and establishing preventive measures is increasing particularly when
investing in the countries and regions where human rights violations have been often issued.
Investment of TNCs to the countries which do not respect human rights has high possibility to
extend and reproduce worst human rights situation.
8. In light of this, we would like to urge the state parties to international human rights law and
transnational corporations to:
(a) Comply with the international human rights standards and laborers ’ rights based on
Corporations Social Responsibility;
(b) Establish preventive measures to protect human rights of laborers in TNCs’ operating
(c) Take responsibilities with regard to human rights on foreign direct investment and
establish measures to take effect.
9. Further, we call on the Commission to:
(a) Take vigorous action on responsibilities of TNCs wit h regard to human rights;
(b) Urge TNCs to estimate the influence of social and human rights when operating in the
regions before investment.