Just under a month ago, my friend Ola Bini was arrested at the airport Quito, Ecuador. Ola, a man whose name inconveniently sounds like “hello” in his adopted home, is a data privacy advocate and widely-recognized tech savant. Sometimes he paints his nails black and he likes that really terrible, dry science fiction--the kind where it’s all science and no character development. But I can forgive him that because he’s a sweet person, generous with his time and expertise, and a zealous but ethical advocate for the human right to privacy.
When I describe CAL’s work to other millennial lawyers, they often tell me “I’m just not that creative.” But these self-identified uncreatives spend their days solving complex problems in sophisticated, nuanced ways. Is this intelligence, but not creativity? What is creativity anyway, and are we born with it, or not?
CAL creates outside-the-box legal mechanisms that give motivated individuals the ability to promote human rights norms by enforcing their own rights.
I knew Charity, the Legal Director and co-founder of CAL, professionally for years. During law school, I spent a summer in DC for an internship, and one night I caught a glimpse of what would become CAL. Charity and some of her law school friends (one of whom would be CAL’s other co-founder) were sitting around brainstorming ideas for legal innovations for corporate accountability.
14 manufacturers. 178 factories across the globe. New rights for thousands of workers and affected communities. This is the initial result of Corporate Accountability Lab’s new test case, showing the potential to revolutionize the way companies do business, and to benefit millions of workers and affected communities producing for the US market.
This week, the AP reported that an estimated one million people, mostly Chinese Muslims, were being held in just one of multiple internment camps in the Xinjiang region of China, and producing sportswear for the US market. Here we lay out four key facts about this case that show how “business as usual” has failed to protect workers and the environment on a massive scale.
This week, we’re lighting candles for a speedy recovery since Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s fall and fractured ribs on November 7, 2018. RBG’s reputation as a brilliant jurist, women’s rights advocate, and overall spicy human is widely appreciated. Just admit it: you wish you were RBG. You’re even jealous of her work out.
Here at Corporate Accountability Lab, we focus on global supply chains. We talk about forced labor in China and poverty wages in Bangladesh. We talk about workers producing for the US market who lack the most basic protections. And we do this as attorneys, with top notch educations, leveraging the power of our privilege to fight for human rights and the environment. But I’m going to get personal here.
Earlier this year, advocates and tech workers successfully lobbied Google to abandon a project with the Pentagon, code-named “Project Maven.” Google’s role in the project was to provide artificial intelligence (AI) that would analyze massive amounts of surveillance data for drones. I imagine if you did a survey of human reactions to enlisting artificial intelligence to figure out who to kill with a drone, the average person would check the box next to “dystopic hellscape.”
There has been some speculation about whether anti-dumping statutes could be put to good use in a human rights context. This speculation stems in part from a case filed in 2004 by the Southern Shrimp Alliance at the International Trade Commission (ITC), challenging the alleged dumping of Thai shrimp (notoriously forced-labor produced). While the shrimp case (discussed further below) did not specifically allege forced labor, it raised the question of whether anti-dumping claims could be used to challenge forced labor and other widespread abuses that suppress the consumer price of various imports.