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Swedwatch´s annual report – Highlights for 2023

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Swedwatch´s annual report – Highlights for 2023

The EU directive on corporate responsibility for human rights and the environment (CSDDD), the responsibility of companies with operations in conflict areas, the importance of sustainable public procurement, and the numerous challenges in the textile industry were among the topics that Swedwatch addressed during 2023.

In Highlights 2023, presented digitally this year, Swedwatch highlights some of the organization's key activities and outcomes throughout the year, aligned with the three long-term goals: responsible use of natural resources, sustainable and fair value chains, and an expanded civil space.

"In our work alongside rights holders worldwide, we clearly see how companies continue to adversely impact human rights. We observe the ongoing effects of climate change, particularly on people in vulnerable situations and environments. We also witness that what is supposed to be a green transition does not always equate to a just transition. Furthermore, global supply chains pose significant risks to people and the environment when companies fail to take responsibility and conduct proper due diligence. Threats, violence, and harassment against human rights and environmental defenders persist. This is a deeply concerning trend," says Alice Blondel, Director of Swedwatch.

But there are also rays of hope. In December 2023, a political agreement was finally reached on the content of the upcoming EU directive on corporate responsibility, CSDDD (Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive), something Swedwatch has been working towards for many years.

However, the joy over this milestone was later clouded. When the directive was finally voted on by EU member states last week, it was significantly watered down. Although Swedwatch welcomes that the directive has passed an important final stage, we deeply regret the extensive dilution that the renegotiations resulted in, and that Sweden abstained from voting.

"It is difficult to rejoice when the content is this watered down. The fact that so few companies are covered is a significant dilution of the law's purpose; to protect the environment and people whose rights are violated in global value chains. Workers and communities in global value chains need and want justice. The vote is a step in the right direction, but considering how few companies seem to be covered, much of the problem unfortunately remains", says Alice Blondel.

Historic trial
During 2023 we saw the start of the historic trial against two representatives of the Swedish Oil company formerly known as Lundin Oil, prosecuted for complicity in grave war crimes in Sudan from 1999 to 2003.

"Hopefully, the trial will be the first step towards justice for the affected individuals, who have been denied restitution for decades. The trial also sends a clear signal to all companies operating in conflict zones to take responsibility for respecting human rights," says Alice Blondel.

Simultaneously, an OECD-led investigation is ongoing in Norway following the company's sale of its oil and gas assets, a move Swedwatch believes could complicate remedy for the victims. Swedwatch is participating in the investigation, a result of Swedwatch's collaboration with, amongst others, civil society actors in South Sudan. The investigation is expected to conclude in 2024.

In 2023, Swedwatch continued to facilitate dialogue among various global stakeholders and worked to ensure that rights holders and their perspectives always take center stage. For example, the organization supported human rights defenders in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Kenya, and Uganda, with a particular focus on land rights.

"Swedwatch always works closely with our partner organizations worldwide, and we have several ongoing projects that will yield results in 2024. We will present reports on working conditions in vineyards in South Africa, the impact of the 'green transition' on human rights and environmental defenders, and an examination of working conditions in the textile industry in Bangladesh," says Alice Blondel.

Since 2003, Swedwatch has conducted research in over 40 countries and published over 100 reports on corporate impact across various sectors concerning human rights and the environment.

Swedwatch is an independent, non-profit research organisation striving to empower rights holders and to promote responsible business practices. Through research and dialogue, Swedwatch highlights the impacts on people and planet by unsustainable business operations, and builds bridges between stakeholders in order to affect change.

Swedwatch’s work is based on internationally recognised frameworks, as outlined in international human rights law, environmental laws and standards, international conventions and other voluntary standards such as the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs), as well as the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises.

The organisation works with three cross-cutting perspectives that are mainstreamed throughout the organisation’s governance and operations:

-climate and environment

-conflict sensitivity and

-gender equality.



Swedwatch är en ideell och politiskt obunden researchorganisation. Vårt mål är att företag, investerare och stater ska ta ansvar för mänskliga rättigheter och miljö och att rättighetsinnehavare kan göra sina röster hörda.


Ami Hedenborg

Ami Hedenborg

Presskontakt Media Manager 0709 32 92 49

For sustainable change

Swedwatch är en ideell och politiskt obunden researchorganisation. Vårt mål är att företag, investerare och stater ska ta ansvar för mänskliga rättigheter och miljö och att rättighetsinnehavare kan göra sina röster hörda.

Genom att uppmärksamma missförhållanden och skapa dialog mellan företag, beslutsfattare och civilsamhälle verkar vi för att skapa bestående och hållbara förändringar.


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