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About Us

Above Ground works to ensure that companies based in Canada or supported by the Canadian state respect human rights wherever they operate. We shed light on how Canadian business activities abroad are contributing to some of the biggest human rights crises of our times, from threats to Indigenous peoples’ survival to the global climate emergency. We advance solutions to hold Canadian companies to account for their impacts abroad, and to secure access to justice for victims of abuse.

What we do

Research and analysis

We produce in-depth research and analysis of the human rights impacts of multinationals based in or supported by Canada, the legal context in which they operate, and the Canadian government’s legal duty to protect against human rights abuse by the private sector. We build broader awareness and understanding of these issues through our publications and engagement with civil society, media and decision-makers.

See our latest news and publications

Collaboration and convening

We work in close collaboration with other human rights advocates in Canada and internationally to lay the groundwork for increased corporate accountability on human rights. We contribute subject matter expertise on legal and policy issues to several civil society coalitions, and convene key players to facilitate informed dialogue, analysis and action.

For instance:

  • We’re working with international colleagues in the ECA Watch network to draw attention to export credit agencies’ significant investments in fossil fuels and encourage a rapid shift of public finance into low-carbon solutions.
  • In 2017, in partnership with the International Corporate Accountability Roundtable, we brought together over 100 participants from government, business, academia, the legal profession and civil society to explore international developments in corporate accountability and opportunities for Canada to become a leader in this field.

Advancing solutions

We advocate for legal and policy solutions, developing and promoting detailed recommendations to increase corporate accountability and access to justice. For instance:

  • We’re convening legal experts to identify legislative amendments that would make Canadian companies liable for the harms caused by their subsidiaries and suppliers overseas.
  • As a member of the Canadian Network on Corporate Accountability we’re helping shape policy proposals to improve access to remedy for people harmed by Canadian companies abroad.

With this work, we’re building momentum towards the adoption of policy and legal frameworks that compel companies to respect human rights in their operations worldwide.

Our history and structure

Above Ground builds on the work of the Halifax Initiative, a coalition of Canadian civil society organizations that played a leadership role in advocating for just international economic policy and corporate accountability from 1994 to 2015. In 2015, staff from the Halifax Initiative created Above Ground, which is a project on MakeWay’s shared platform.

MakeWay is a national charity that builds partnerships and solutions to help nature and communities thrive together. Its shared platform provides operational supports, governance, and charitable expertise for changemakers, enabling more time and money to go towards achieving greater impact. MakeWay has full fiduciary and governance responsibility for Above Ground.

Above Ground is committed to principles of dignity, independence, integration and equal opportunity; for more information, please see MakeWay’s accessibility policy and plan.

a project of MakeWay

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