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GARDE - Global Alliance for Responsibility, Democracy and Equity

The GARDE (Global Alliance for Responsibility, Democracy and Equity) programme of the Environmental Law Service (ELS) reflects rapid societal changes connected to globalization processes and that is why it focuses on the identification of the key issues of this phenomenon and its aim is to help people who are hurt by the negative impacts of globalization. Therefore, the main aim of the GARDE Program is to make multinational corporations behave responsibly and we try to achieve this mainly through strategic litigation. It is thanks to such missions that we not only provide legal aid to citizens who suffer from the irresponsible and reckless behavior of corporations who cooperate with state institutions, but we also open social debates over such issues.  

GARDE is unique in the Czech Republic in that no other organisation is systematically concerned with the activities of MNEs. Both corporate accountability and corporate social responsibility (CSR) fall into the GARDE programme. GARDE, under its former structure as Trade and Environment, was chiefly concerned with the environmental aspects of MNE activities. In the last 12 months, GARDE has begun to concern itself with discrimination against employees within the framework of CSR, and has begun providing legal help in specific cases. The combination of these activities has led the GARDE programme to the conclusion that CSR instruments - such as OECD Guidelines, ILO standards, UN norms - formed a natural complement to its other methods, and indeed may be more effective than a purely legal approach. In addition, the GARDE programme, as for ELS in general, is concerned with corruption and clientelism, which also fall in the context of CSR.  

Five lawyers work full-time for the GARDE programme. GARDE uses a wide range of legal tools – environmental law, labour law, consumer law, Czech Constitutional law, administrative law, business law, and civil law, as well as EU law.

GARDE represents ELS in the international OECD Watch network and is a member of the executive committee that represents the Czech Republic in the European Coalition for Corporate Justice (ECCJ).  

The activities of the GARDE programme thus have much common ground with a range of issues that concern trade unions and their lawyers. Through a CSR approach we are able to find a common platform with civil society organizations and trade unions to pursue common social, health and environmental goals.