Since 2020, OECD Watch and partners Conectas Human Rights (Conectas) and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), have led a diverse coalition of interested Brazilian and international civil society in urging OECD member governments to require Brazil to implement important reforms strengthening its protection of human rights and the environment – and ensure a transparent and inclusive accession review process – before considering allowing Brazil to join the OECD as a member.

This webpage provides information on the coalition’s work.

Brazil’s long interest in joining the OECD
Brazil has long been interested in joining the OECD and in 2017 it submitted a formal request for membership. In civil society’s view, Brazil is far from being aligned with OECD standards, nor has its governments consistently demonstrated commitment to the OECD’s standards and values on the rule of law, protection of human rights, and promotion of environmental sustainability.

2020: OECD Watch undertakes preliminary research on ‘governance gaps’ impacting human rights and environment
In 2020, several OECD Watch members joined OECD Watch in highlighting concerns about Brazil’s governance over the environment, human rights, and labour rights. In a submission to an OECD Working Party on Responsible Business Conduct’s review of responsible business conduct policy in Brazil, civil society identified what it termed ‘governance gaps’ – such as underfunding of important policymaking or enforcement ministries, passage of harmful laws or failure to implement existing good laws, inability to ensure accountability through the justice system, lack of disclosure of important information, exclusion of civil society and other stakeholders from decision-making bodies, among others. The submission illustrated the governance gaps using case studies showing serious harm to people and the environment. The submission also made preliminary recommendations for actions the Brazilian government should take to close the gaps.

Later that year, civil society groups agreed to launch a project to raise those governance gaps more broadly with OECD committees to urge that the gaps be addressed as a condition of Brazil’s potential accession to the OECD.

2021: OECD Watch undertakes deeper research and consultation on ‘governance gaps’
Starting in early 2021, OECD Watch and partners Conectas and FIDH began collecting research on five critical areas of concern in Brazil: climate and deforestation, environmental degradation, protection of environmental and human rights defenders, protection o fIndigenous Peoples rights, and protection of workers rights. The partners identified the most salient governance gaps leading to harm in those areas, often with a strong link to enabling or even endorsing irresponsible conduct by businesses. The partners also identified illustrative case examples showing the impact of those gaps on human beings and the planet. And the partners began forming recommendations on how to close those gaps, with a demand: that the OECD require Brazil to close the gaps as a condition of accession.

In the first half of 2021, OECD Watch and its partners opened a wide consultation for civil society experts to weigh-in on the research findings, case studies, and recommendations.

Towards the end of 2021, OECD Watch held a webinar for civil society on its project and shared a Civil society guide to influencing the OECD accession process.

2022: OECD Watch helps secure strong accession roadmap for Brazil
In early January 2022, the OECD formally invited Brazil to begin the accession process. In response to the announcement, OECD Watch, Conectas, and FIDH published a joint statement demanding that Brazil not be granted membership before it had aligned its environmental and human rights laws, policies, and practices with the OECD’s standards and values.

In March 2022, OECD Watch released five research papers sharing its findings at an online event attended by over a hundred diverse stakeholders from civil society, government, business, unions, and the OECD. The multistakeholder panelists and OECD Watch, Connectas, and FIDH called on the OECD to use its powerful leverage during the accession process to help Brazil realise reform on rule of law, human rights, and environmental protection in Brazil, by requiring Brazil to adopt the reforms proposed as a condition for membership. The papers also asked the OECD to ensure Brazil and other candidates’ accession processes be transparent and formally inclusive of stakeholder participation.

Throughout the first half of 2022, OECD Watch and its partners engaged in advocacy with OECD member governments to share the research findings and recommendations. That advocacy paid off. In June 2022, the OECD issued an updated accession roadmap for Brazil and other candidate states, which for the first time ever addressed major concerns like climate change, biodiversity loss, and respect for the rights of environmental defenders and Indigenous Peoples. OECD Watch and its partners welcomed the improved roadmap, but called on the OECD to put the commitments to action through a rigorous, inclusive, and transparent review process for Brazil.

In the second half of 2022, OECD Watch continued to engage in advocacy with individual member governments of the OECD, explaining the coalition’s demands for both strong terms of accession for Brazil addressing environment and human rights governance, and a transparent process inclusive of civil society input. For example, in October 2022 OECD Watch helped support a sign-on letter to the OECD raising climate-related concerns in connection with Brazil’s accession process. OECD Watch also engaged in direct advocacy towards the OECD and member governments.

2023: OECD Watch continued advocacy towards OECD member governments
In 2023, OECD Watch continued advocacy towards the OECD and member governments, while updating our research to reflect reforms undertaken and reforms still needed in Brazil following the change in political leadership there.

In early 2023, the partners released a documentary on recent tailings dam collapses in Brazil. In 2015 and 2019, two tailings dams holding mining waste material collapsed in Minas Gerais, Brazil, killing hundreds of people and flooding rivers and ecosystems with toxic mud. The documentary highlights the ongoing struggle of the Krenak Indigenous Peoples to achieve accountability and shows how victims are pursuing justice through the UK legal system. The documentary echoes the call for the OECD not to allow Brazil membership unless and until it addressed the gaps leading to such disasters.

Later in the year, the partners released a second documentary on impacts of cattle ranching in Brazil. The documentary highlighted the fight of Eru-Eu-Wau-Wau Indigenous Peoples facing deforestation and land grabs by cattle ranchers, showing how the victims are pursuing justice through the French legal system. The documentary also echoes the call for the OECD not to allow Brazil membership unless and until it addresses governance gaps that enable companies to exploit protected lands.

In July 2023, the partners submitted updated research to the OECD Secretary General and member ambassadors to support their engagement with the OECD technical committees’ ongoing reviews in relation to Brazil’s accession. The partners shared their research in a new format, highlighting human rights concerns and environmental concerns and explaining the link between the concerns raised and particular expectations established for Brazil and candidate states by the OECD technical committees in the roadmap.