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November 2021

Corporate Accountability and Workers Rights
ARC launched a new webpage to highlight our work on corporate accountability and worker rights, led by ARC senior researcher Judy Gearhart.  ARC’s corporate accountability work centers the voices and experiences of national worker rights advocates in international discussions of policies and strategies to increase both corporate and public accountability. It focuses on labor organizers who are making a difference for workers and local communities producing cocoa, apparel, and seafood in Bangladesh, Cambodia, Thailand, Ghana, and Cote d’Ivoire, among other countries. These leaders organize workers, provide legal aid, expose abuses, and build national social movements. Closing civic space is a very real threat for them. Often these national organizers come under added duress because they are challenging both the government and business elites in their country.
Figure 1 Thai labor leader Sawit Kaewwan features in our first podcast in the Labor Link series
The new webpage features the first in a podcast series called the Labor Link, hosted by Judy Gearhart in collaboration with Empathy Media Lab. The Labor Link will feature conversations with the brave individuals organizing the workers who power global supply chains. The first episode profiles Thai labor leader Sawit Kaewwan, the secretary general of the State Enterprises Workers’ Relations Confederation (SERC), which has mobilized the Thai trade union movement to support migrant workers, especially those at risk of human trafficking. Sawit’s vision challenges the anti-human trafficking movement to move beyond rescue-focused efforts towards strategies that empower migrant workers and secure their access to remedy – a vision that challenges the Thai government and employers. He and 12 other labor organizers now face criminal charges in what many believe to be an effort to silence them. Click here for the full podcast, or listen to the 5 minute version from RadioLabour.

Judy has also posted a blog summarizing Sawit’s approach and the politicization of his case with Thompson Reuters Foundation.
Events in Brief
Transparency International: On November 3rd, Jonathan Fox participated in a panel discussion convened by Transparency International with national chapters on “how to engage reluctant duty-bearers” in a learning exchange organized as part of the Strengthening Accountability Networks among Civil Society initiative.

G-Watch board meeting: G-Watch held its Executive Board Meeting and its first face-to-face activity since lockdown on November 12th. The Executive Board is a ‘working board’ that provides collective oversight along with the G-Watch Advisory Board, where network members, partners, and allies are represented.
Figure 2 The G-Watch Executive Board meeting in person for the first time since March 2020
Oxfam Pilipinas hosted a webinar on G-Watch's TPA Now: On November 16th, Oxfam Pilipinas hosted a webinar around G-Watch’s TPA Now series paper by Joy Aceron and Yasmira Moner on ‘Building Transparency, Participation and Accountability in BARMM Amidst the COVID-19 Pandemic’ to enhance understanding of existing social accountability mechanisms in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).

OGP Academy social audits & grievance redress mechanisms: On November 16th, Suchi Pande and Naomi Hossain co-organized a session on The Case for Social Audits & Grievance Redress Mechanisms with the Open Government Partnership and the Korean Development Institute for the OGP Academy. Professor Marcio Cunha Filho from the Faculty of Law at the University of Brasília spoke about the Ouvidorias system of oversight in Brazil (and you can read his Accountability Keyword post about it here). Elsheber Oketch of the Kwale Youth and Governance Consortium in Kenya spoke about their experiences with citizen engagement with complaints systems and social audits in Kwale County. Dr Suchi Pande summarized findings from a recent literature review of grievance redress mechanisms and social audits.
 
Figure 3 Open Government Partnership Academy session: the Case for Social Audits and Grievance Redress Mechanisms. Clockwise from top left: Marcio Cunha Filho, Naomi Hossain, Elsheber Oketch, Suchi Pande
 
Webinar on Grievance redress mechanisms with Integrity Action: ARC co-hosted a webinar on Resolving citizens' complaints: what makes it happen? Who owns the process? with Integrity Action and expert-practitioners from around the world on November 23rd. Suchi Pande shared findings from the recent literature review of grievance redress mechanisms and social audits. Annette Fisher and Tom Kirk shared their experiences with setting up a grievance redress mechanism for a UNICEF-government program in South Sudan. Integrity Action’s Derek Thorne summarized the findings of recent research into how citizens come together to resolve problems in development programs, and Isaack Otieno of the International Foundation for Electoral Systems analyzed experiences with problem-solving systems in Kenya’s new (since 2010) constitution. Dina Balabanova of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine/Anti-Corruption Evidence research consortium at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London shared findings about how communities resolve the common problem of absenteeism in public services. The webinar can be viewed in full here.
 
Keywords Roundup: What Does #Accountability Mean to You?
ARC’s series of Accountability Keywords posts reflect on the meanings and usage of relevant keywords in multiple contexts and languages. The authors in the keyword series come from countries across Asia, Africa, and Latin America.

In case you missed them, here are the keywords posts from November:
Publications
Figure 4 Demanding Power: People board a chapa in Catembe, Mozambique. Credit: Flickr / Rosino. (CC BY-SA 2.0)
COP26 Highlight: Energy Protests and Citizen Voice
 
In the month of COP26, research into energy protests led by ARC’s Naomi Hossain was the focus of a new A4EA policy briefing on Energy Protests and Citizen Voice. The brief by Neil McCulloch highlights the fact that countries are wrestling with the need to achieve a just transition away from fossil fuels while at the same time ensuring access to affordable energy. Increasingly widespread energy protests have a common root cause: the undemocratic nature of energy policymaking. The briefing describes findings from research conducted in Mozambique, Nigeria, and Pakistan, as well as from a global, cross-country study, and the insights from an International Roundtable, asking how and under which conditions do struggles over energy in fragile and conflict-affected settings empower citizens to hold public authorities to account? 

 
Please share with colleagues who may be interested to sign up for future monthly updates on publications and highlights of our partner organizations’ work for social change and greater accountability. You can follow ARC on @AcctResearchCtr, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram!
 
With Regards from the ARC team:

Jonathan Fox, director
Angela Bailey, managing director
Naomi Hossain, research professor
Rachel Nadelman, policy advisor (World Bank Citizen Engagement)
Judy Gearhart, senior researcher (transnational labor & environmental rights)
Joy Aceron, G-Watch convenor-director, and ARC researcher / advisor
Mariana Cepeda, researcher (Colombia)
Abrehet Gebremedhin, research & publications
Luis Diaz, finance manager
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arc@american.edu

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