Human Rights Monitor - Business and Human Rights Edition
HUMAN RIGHTS MONITOR
Business and Human Rights Edition - December 2014

Preview:
UN Forum on Business and Human Rights

The 2014 Forum on Business and Human Rights (1 - 3 December) will feature an array of discussions, debates and networking opportunities for human rights defenders.

Find out more

OPINION
 
SUPPORTING AND PROTECTING DEFENDERS WHO WORK ON BUSINESS AND HUMAN RIGHTS


By Michel Forst, UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders
 



It is increasingly well documented that human rights defenders who work to promote corporate respect for human rights, or to expose and seek accountability for human rights violations perpetrated by business, face particular risks, restrictions and attacks. The good news is that, led by civil society, some States and the UN human rights system are beginning to respond. But they can and must do more to safeguard this important but often dangerous work… more

About this monitor

In the lead up the United Nations' Business and Human Rights Forum, ISHR is devoting this Human Rights Monitor to the issue of defending human rights in the context of corporate accountability.

Themes covered include how to elevate the role of human rights defenders on the global business and human rights agenda, the protection of defenders at the regional and national level, to the role and duty of business to engage constructively with activists, and key resources and opportunities for human rights defenders. The monitor includes the voices of key UN experts, State representatives, legal specialists and leading international and local non-governmental organisations.

All the articles in this publication are also available in Spanish here and at www.ishr.ch.

THE SITUATION AND ROLE OF Human rights defenders working on corporate accountability

THE CHALLENGES FOR WOMEN DEFENDERS WORKING ON BUSINESS AND HUMAN RIGHTS

By Alejandra Ancheita, 2014 Martin Ennals Award Laureate and Executive Director of ProDESC

Women human rights defenders and those working on business and human rights are two groups facing particular risks in Mexico and other Latin American countries, but State responses are falling short. In the absence of comprehensive State action to address the situation, the challenges and risks for human rights defenders are growing daily… more

THE DANGEROUS WORK OF DEFENDING TRANSPARENCY 

By Lisa Misol, Senior Advisor, Human Rights Watch

The bold activists around the world who stand up to corporate and government economic interests frequently face a harsh backlash. Individuals and communities are threatened, and activists may be arrested or killed in retaliation for speaking out against abuses of worker rights, hazardous environmental conditions, and displacement from large-scale infrastructure projects, to name some all-too-common examples… more

ELEVATING human rights defenders on the global business and human rights agenda

HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS ARE CENTRAL TO DEVELOPING THE BUSINESS AND HUMAN RIGHTS AGENDA

By Michael Ineichen, ISHR

The Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, adopted by consensus at the Human Rights Council, enshrine that businesses should engage in meaningful consultations with ‘potentially affected groups and other relevant stakeholders’ to identify the human rights impacts of their work.

Human rights defenders are both directly affected by, and key stakeholders regarding, the human rights impacts of business; coming from, living in, representing, and supporting affected communities. Constructive engagement and consultation with human rights defenders is therefore a business obligation arising under the Guiding Principles… more

HOW THE UN’S LATEST INITIATIVES ON BUSINESS AND HUMAN RIGHTS CAN SERVE DEFENDERS

By the Ambassadors to the UN of Norway and Ecuador

At the September session of the UN Human Rights Council, two resolutions were adopted on the topic of business and human rights. The first focuses on national implementation of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, whilst the second establishes an inter-governmental process to begin the development of a treaty on business and human rights.

ISHR has invited the ambassadors of Ecuador and Norway to explain how the business and human rights initiatives they led at the UN can both serve and benefit from human rights defenders on the ground… more

protecting and supporting defenders working on business and human rights at the national level

FULL IMPLEMENTATION OF THE GUIDING PRINCIPLES MEANS PROTECTING HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS 

By Michael K. Addo, Chair of the UN Working Group on the issue of human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises 

Free and vibrant social dialogue is critically important to the promotion of business and human rights. It allows different views to be aired to ensure well-informed policymaking. Human rights defenders are the key actors in this regard… more

HOW NATIONAL ACTION PLANS ON BUSINESS AND HUMAN RIGHTS CAN PROTECT HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS 

By Sara Blackwell and Katie Shay, International Corporate Accountability Roundtable

Around the world, business-related human rights abuses against individuals and communities continue to an astounding degree. Human rights defenders can face significant risks to their lives and livelihoods on a daily basis as they work under the threat of extrajudicial killings, abductions, surveillance and intimidation as a result of their efforts to defend human rights in the face of harmful business activities… more

KEY RESOURCES AND OPPORTUNITIES FOR HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS

KEY DATES AND ACTIVITIES ON THE BUSINESS AND HUMAN RIGHTS CALENDAR 
 
Throughout 2015, there are a number of opportunities for human rights defenders working on issues around corporate accountability to leverage the UN human rights system to further their advocacy goals... more

KEY RESOURCES FOR HRDS WORKING FOR BUSINESS AND HUMAN RIGHTS 

ISHR has compiled a list of resources available to human rights defenders working on corporate accountability at the international and regional levels, and through civil society initiatives… more

FERTILE GROUND FOR CORPORATE ACCOUNTABILITY ADVOCATES: CRC GENERAL COMMENT ON BUSINESS AND CHILDREN’S RIGHTS 

By Lucy McKernan, Global Initiative on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights 

For human rights defenders working on children’s rights or corporate accountability issues, the General Comment on business and children’s rights by the Committee on the Rights of the Child has a lot to offer… more

             

the role of business

THE DUTY AND BUSINESS CASE FOR CORPORATIONS TO ENGAGE CONSTRUCTIVELY WITH HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS 

By Rachel Nicolson, Dora Banyasz and Anna McMahon of Allens 

Sustainable business benefits flow from engaging with human rights defenders, and most companies will increase their knowledge of the operating environment, as well as their ability to identify, manage and prevent potential human rights risks, by doing so… more

human rights defender profiles

SUKHGEREL DUGERSUREN: MONGOLIA 

Mongolia is a brand new star on the extractive industry’s stage. Being brand new means it does not have the necessary legal framework, norms and standards aimed at protecting the environment and the rights of local communities… more

EMMANUEL UMPULA NKUMBA: DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO

Our main advocacy objectives are to ensure that the exploitation of natural resources fully respects the norms and benefits the whole population. The challenges for defenders working on business and human rights in DRC are of giant scope and there are many obstacles... more

RAFAELA DANIELLI NICOLA: BRAZIL

There is a long-lasting story of struggle by people worried about environmental and social issues and systemic human rights violations taking place in Brazil. Human rights defenders, journalists and the local population face a number of obstacles in pursuing their goals to defend land rights… more

NEW TRAINING AND STRATEGY SESSION for human rights defenders ON BUSINESS AND HUMAN RIGHTS

A group of human rights defenders from Asia, Africa and Latin America have been trained this week by ISHR in Geneva, ahead of the UN Forum on Business and Human Rights.

A new course was tailored to the needs of defenders working on corporate accountability issues, and included modules on constructive engagement with business to promote corporate responsibility and strategic advocacy at the UN to promote corporate accountability.

See an album of photos from the training here.

views from the regions

ISHR asked representatives in and around the regional human rights systems of AfricaAsia and the Americas to explain why human rights defenders and regional protection is vital in the issue of corporate accountability. The Chair of the African Commission Working Group on extractive industries, the Inter-American Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders and Forum Asia’s ASEAN Advocacy Programme Manager tell us why.

DEFENDING THE DEFENDERS: A NEED TO ENSURE PROTECTION OF HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS IN THE EXTRACTIVE SECTOR 

By Pacifique Manirakiza, Commissioner at the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights and Chair of the Working Group on Extractive industries, environment and Human Rights Violation

For the last decades, the extractive industry has been booming in Africa. For instance, mining and developmental projects are conceived and implemented all over Africa. The implementation of those projects poses a serious challenge to the African human rights community. Human rights defenders operating in this area face serious and specific challenges... more

THE IMPORTANCE AND PROTECTION OF HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS IN THE AMERICAS

By Commissioner José de Jesús Orozco Henríquez, Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights

Since its foundation 50 years ago, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights has monitored the situation of human rights defenders in the Americas and has employed protection mechanisms to protect the life and physical integrity of persons persecuted for their activities to defend human rights… more

BUSINESS AND HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS IN THE ASEAN REGION

By Atnike Nova Sigiro, ASEAN Advocacy Programme Manager at Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA)

Aiming to be an ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) by 2015, the ASEAN region has accelerated its integration into the global market economy driven by business interests from within and outside ASEAN, with a strong backing by the region’s governments. Projects proposed under the AEC include transport cooperation, energy cooperation and mining cooperation. Much political emphasis has been placed on liberalising the region’s economy and facilitating trade and investment. Far less emphasis has been placed on addressing the social and environmental consequences of economic growth and safeguarding human rights… more
 

latest news

RELEASE ARBITRARILY DETAINED HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDER IN DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO 

Congolese human rights defender Boniface Umpula Nyembo was arrested in Lubumbashi on 10 November 2014. He was placed in preventive detention and charged with 'incitement to civil disobedience' and 'disseminating false rumours'. Mr Nyembo, who works for a leading Congolese non-governmental organisation, Action contre l’impunité pour les Droits Humains, has since been released from custody, but ISHR reiterates its call for the charges against him to be dropped… more

CAMBODIA MUST DROP CHARGES AGAINST VENERABLE SOVATH AND END JUDICIAL HARASSMENT OF HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS 

Cambodian human rights defender Venerable Luon Sovath faces trial on 25 November 2014 in a flawed and protracted judicial process that only aims to intimidate and silence him. A group of Cambodian and international human rights organisations called for the trumped-up charges against Venerable Sovath to be dropped immediately… more

CALL FOR NOMINATIONS: THE 2015 MARTIN ENNALS AWARD FOR HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS 

Deadline: 9 December 2014

Nominations are open for the 2015 Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders. Anyone can nominate any individual or, exceptionally, an organisation for the award, which aims to give recognition and protective publicity to those who are currently involved in front line human rights work. Special account is taken of those who are at risk and have demonstrated an active record of combating human rights violations by courageous and innovative means.

The present value of the annual Award is 20'000 Swiss Francs, to be used for further work in the field of human rights. Nominations can be submitted electronically at www.martinennalsaward.org by 9 December 2014.
For more information, please visit our website: www.ishr.ch or contact us: information@ishr.ch