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ESCR-Net offers critical reflections on UN Working Group on business & human rights

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Article
5 November 2013

[PDF] Response to the civil society organizations who have sent submissions in relation to the 2013 Regional Forum on Business and Human Rights for Latin America and the Caribbean

Author: Mandate of the UN Working Group on the issue of human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises

The Working Group appreciates that frustration exists, including for victims of business-related human rights impacts and human rights defenders, with the slow progress of implementation of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights in certain areas. We are committed to contributing to any dialogue that enables effective prevention, mitigation and remedy of adverse business impacts and of human rights violations...The Working Group wishes to highlight that all its members are independent experts...In the view of the Working Group and many other participants, the multistakeholder nature of the Regional Forum was an outstanding achievement given the region’s history and current challenges...[W]e welcome the Human Rights Council’s decision...calling for the establishment of a Special Fund for the participation of civil society and other relevant stakeholders in...the Forum on Business and Human Rights, and encourages States, intergovernmental, non-governmental organizations and other private or public entities to make voluntary contributions to the special fund.

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Article
20 September 2013

[DOC] Declaration of Civil Society Organizations that Participated in the First Regional Forum on Business and Human Rights in Latin America and the Caribbean [Latin America]

Author: Asociación Interamericana para la Defensa del Ambiente (AIDA), Asociación Pro Derechos Humanos (APRODEH), Peru, Centro de Estudios de Derecho, Justicia y Sociedad (Dejusticia), Colombia and other 14 organizations

…The expectations regarding the event were high, as it was the first time the Working Group held such an event in the region…Unfortunately, the Forum was far from a plural confluence of diverse actors. In the seven panels…47 people participated, of which only 10% came from communities affected by business activities or human rights NGOs that work with such communities…In addition…those that did participate were forced to endure long lines and rigorous rules in order to raise questions before the group…[The] WG and the co-organizers did not consider the asymmetry of economic resources…there was not a clear and transparent process for the selection of…representatives…[and] there was at least one case in which a victim’s organization, the Union of Those Affected by Petroleum Operations of Texaco…solicited permission to participate…but never received a response.

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Article
13 September 2013

[PDF] [Response to ESCR-net Corporate Accountability Working Group intervention]

Author: UN Working Group on business & human rights

[T]he Working Group would like to offer some responses and clarifications to the points you raise...Given the breadth of the [Working Group's] mandate, and our limited time and resources to carry it out, the Working Group has put tremendous effort into developing a strategy that would allow it to have the greatest impact, both now and in the future...[T]he Working Group decided to pursue three work streams through which it will deliver its mandate: global dissemination, promoting implementation, and embedding in global governance frameworks...The Working Group devotes more attention to the victims of human rights abuses by companies, including their challenges related to accessing effective remedy, than the challenges faced by companies...The Working Group has raised [corporate capture of government] in its public country report and speeches, and will examine the implementation of the Guiding Principles in corporate lobbying during its upcoming session...The Working Group considers groups such as ESCR-Net as partners in producing information related to corporate human rights abuses, and the Working Group always aims to collaborate and disseminate the work of actors who have resources and insights that complements its own strategy.

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Article
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Author: Grupo de Derechos Humanos de la Red-DESC

...Compartimos las siguientes cinco reflexiones…[1] la Red-DESC considera que el enfoque del Grupo de Trabajo…al ejecutar su mandato ha sido muy limitado…[2]…el grupo de Trabajo…enfatiza indebidamente las necesidades identificadas por las empresas en sus retos para adherirse a los Principios Rectores, en detrimento de las necesidades de, y la ayuda requerida por, los grupos víctimas de violaciones de derechos humanos por parte de empresas…[3] el Grupo de Trabajo…no ha ejercido liderazgo en la atención de las causas fundamentales de las violaciones de derechos humanos por parte de empresas…[4]…urgimos a este Grupo de Trabajo de la ONU que considere incluir referencias a estos asuntos clave en su informe al Consejo…para…brindar soluciones sostenibles a las violaciones de derechos humanos graves y persistentes de parte de las empresas…[5] solicitamos…al Consejo de Derechos Humanos que el nombramiento de los futuros titulares de mandatos sobre procedimientos especiales asegure la completa independencia de toda relación con las empresas…[Nuestra] participación en futuros foros de la ONU relacionados con el tema de empresas y derechos humanos dependerá de nuestra evaluación de los progresos efectivos que haga el Grupo de Trabajo de la ONU para abordar los puntos anteriormente mencionados.

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Article
27 August 2013

[PDF] Intervention at the CSO meeting prior to the UN Regional Forum on Business & Human Rights

Author: Corporate Accountability Working Group, International Network for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ESCR-Net)

We offer the following five reflections that stem from our collective perspective of nearly decade a of experience in this area of work...Firstly...[w]e are concerned that...exploration of means to enhance access to effective remedies, including judicial remedies, advice and recommendations regarding development of relevant policies and domestic legislation...has to date been ignored, perhaps willfully, by the Working Group...Secondly, we are of the view that the UN Working Group unduly emphasizes the needs identified by corporations in their challenges with adhering to the Guiding Principles, at the expense of the needs and assistance required by groups impacted by corporate human rights violations in the process of overcoming severe obstacles to obtaining effective remedies...Thirdly, the UN Working Group has shown a complete lack of leadership in addressing the root causes of corporate human rights violations...Fourthly, with a view to the forthcoming consideration by the Human Rights Council of a renewal of the mandate of the UN Working Group, we urge the UN Working Group to consider including reference to these important issues in their report to the Council reflecting their recommendations for the future...Fifthly...we ask the Human Rights Council to ensure that the appointment of future special procedure mandate holders be based in part on complete independence of appointees from corporate entities. Finally, our formal participation in future UN fora related to human rights and business will depend on our assessment of what concrete progress is made by the UN Working Group to address these aforementioned points.

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