Small banner: Annual report 2020 - Time for a climate revolution

Last year, the European Commission announced its intention to bring in a potentially groundbreaking new law which would hold companies to account for their human rights abuses and environmental harms.


Corporations are leaving a trail of destruction behind them all over the world - destroying wildlife, forestry and riding roughshod over the rights of communities living on the land. We are campaigning for new laws to hold them accountable. Illustration of Angélica Ortiz - Fuerza de Mujeres Wayuu, Colombia. Benjamin Wachenje / Global Witness

Global Witness has been campaigning for this since June 2019, with our team helping to create and organise a well-functioning and efficient coalition of NGOs to pool resources, expertise and jointly agree the overarching strategy.  

We began with a focused campaign to secure a commitment from the European Commission to take forward this new law, which bore fruit in April 2020, when the European Commissioner for Justice, Didier Reynders, did just that.

Throughout last year, we have been working to provide input and shape the European Parliament Report on Corporate Due Diligence and Corporate Accountability, which establishes the Parliament’s position on the legislation. We successfully made the case for the financial sector to be included, as well as crucial measures to ensure victims of corporate abuse can seek justice.

In October 2020, the European Commission held a public consultation on their planned approach. We partnered with Anti-Slavery International, the Clean Clothes Campaign and Avaaz to ensure the voice of global south partners was brought directly to the Commission. To do this, we developed a bespoke consultation tool that allowed global participants to input, generating almost half a million responses.

We organised an event, bringing a Land and Environmental Defender from Colombia and a partner organisation from India to speak directly to the European Commissioner for Justice, highlighting why the law needed strong provisions to ensure companies are obligated to listen to local communities and provide remedy when harms are committed.