About us

Sherpa, founded in 2001, has set its mission to protect and defend victims of economic crimes drawing on the power of the law and to fight against the new forms of impunity linked to globalization. Our vision is to help build a world where law is in service of a more mindful globalization.

Economic criminality covers two main forms materializing in two programs at Sherpa: the Globalization and Human Rights Program and the Illicit Financial Flows Program. To implement them, Sherpa brings together an expert team of lawyers, using legal tools, strategies and advocacy, along with pro bono representation from committed international jurists, lawyers, and specialists

Our groundbreaking work has resulted in legal remedies being delivered to victims of corporate-related human rights abuse, changes in law and policy that have helped reshape global business as well as defense of civil society actors and their work from corporate reprisal.

Our objectives

  • To pursue the establishment of a binding legal framework to make economic actors, and transnational companies in particular violating human rights and causing environmental damages, accountable for their impacts.
  • To fight against the illicit financial flows and tackles issues such as corruption, money laundering or tax evasion. Sherpa works in particular on ill-gotten gains, tax havens and transparency in the extractive industries. Emerging countries lose at least a thousand billion dollars every year through illicit financial flows whether it is from corruption or tax evasion by multinationals. These flows are a major challenge to development since they reduce the resources available for essential public services such as education or health, and aggravate the burden of debt in emerging countries.

Programmes

  • Globalization and human rights

The European Commission defines Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) as “a concept whereby companies integrate social and environmental concerns in their business operations and in their interaction with their stakeholders on a voluntary basis” (“Green Paper on corporate social responsibility,” 2001.)

For Sherpa, such a position is inadequate. Therefore, it strongly advocates for the establishment of a binding legal framework for transnational corporations.

  • Illicit financial flows and development

Whether linked to corruption or to tax evasion by multinational corporations, illicit financial flows constitute a major challenge to development. They reduce the amount of resources available for essential public services and worsen the debt burden of governments, particularly in developing countries. The situation is such that even today, the majority of governments in developing countries fail to fulfil the most basic human needs.

SHERPA conducts campaigns that aim at denouncing these illicit financial flows.

Tools of action

  • Advocacy: We conduct advocacy campaigns nationally an internationally to promote better regulation of commercial activities and transnational financial flows. We advocate to economic actors, public authorities, and citizens, with legal tools but also large media campaigns and online mobilization tools.
  • Strategic litigation: Local civil society organizations and legal experts often alert us on multinationals’ violations impacting communities. Depending on the level of evidences, we launch strategic judicial or extra judicial actions using a variety of legal tools, from negotiation to soft law instruments (such as the OECD Guidelines for multinational enterprises) and legal proceedings. We therefore demonstrate the existence of violations and their dramatic consequences on populations and expose the legal weaknesses that need to be tackled.
  • Legal Laboratory: As a think tank, we develop new legal tools supporting our lobbying campaigns and our strategic litigations. They can take various forms; investigation reports, legal articles, op-ed and legal studies.
  • Education & training: To strengthen vulnerable impacted communities’ capacity and counterbalance multinationals’ weight and power, we organize capacity-building for national groups to foster local actors to use legal tools: the “legal caravans”. We reinforce local groups and OSC’s ability with local legal experts to defend their case and improve the national and regional legal frameworks towards a better protection of human rights from corporations’ activities. We’ve been implementing a first series of legal caravans in 6 countries of Francophone Africa since 2012.