About KTNC Watch
Issues in relation to human rights violations, labor rights violations and environmental destruction have increased along with the increase in the number of Korean multinational corporations. Labor rights violations such as the disbanding of labor unions, delays in wage payments, physical violence are severe and widespread in host countries. There have also been significant environmental issues as well as abuse of rights against indigenous peoples caused by large development projects.
KTNC Watch is made up of human rights, labor, environmental, and public interest law organizations that work together to deal with the various human rights and environmental issues caused by Korean multinational corporations.
Monitoring of the human rights and environmental impacts of Korean multinational corporations dates back to 1994 when an organization called People’s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy (PSPD) was established. The International Human Rights Center was set up as part of the PSPD and in 1995 the Special Committee on Multinational Corporation Issues was formed under this Center. Prior to the 1990s Korean international solidarity movements focused more on condemning domestic human rights violations in the international arena. From the 1990s, however, human rights activists participating in international conferences in the Asia region began to have the opportunity to reveal human rights violations being committed by Korean multinational corporations.
To better address the issues revealed, the Special Committee on Multinational Corporation Issues and the International Solidarity Committee united under the PSPD to form the Center for International Solidarity. In 1999 the Center for International Solidarity began working independently, and in 2000 it became the Korean House of International Solidarity.
The Korean House of International Solidarity continued to monitor Korean multinational corporations. It contributed to the establishment of the Asian Transnational Corporation Monitoring Network in 2002, a network made up of labor organizations in the Asia region. In 2003 the Korean House of International Solidarity published a white paper on the human rights violations being committed by Korean multinational corporations. It also played a key role in raising the issue of problematic Korean investment in Myanmar.
In 2007 two incidents highlighted the need to strengthen the monitoring of Korean multinational corporations, the appeals to the Korean National Contact Point (NCP) in regard to Phils Jeon Garments Inc. and POSCO’s India project. Monitoring of POSCO’s India project began in 2008 in response to requests for solidarity from Indian civil society organizations. Consequently a network named Korea Transnational Corporations Watch (KTNC Watch) was formed by the Korean House of International Solidarity, GongGam, the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions, the Korean Federation for Environmental Movement, and Corporate For All. A non-profit public interest lawyers’ organization called Advocates for Public Interest Law (APIL) and Hope and Law (Korean Lawyers for Public Interest and Human Rights) subsequently joined this network.
When the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGP) were approved by the UN Human Rights Council in 2011 there was no network in Korea that both monitored and discussed human rights and environmental issues related to Korean multinational corporations. KTNC Watch was thus officially inaugurated in 2013 to fill this gap.