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Georgia: UN Working Group on Business & Human Rights urge responsible business conduct to tackle work accidents & pollution, following country visit

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Article
4 October 2019

Press release: Georgia: UN experts urge responsible business conduct to tackle work accidents and pollution

Author: The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights

The Government of Georgia and businesses in the country must take urgent, robust action to address critical business and human rights challenges, say a group of UN human rights experts. “We were alarmed at how a decade of deregulation aimed at attracting foreign investment has become a carte blanche for irresponsible business practices,” said Surya Deva, Chairperson of the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights, presenting a statement at the end of a 10-day visit to the country. “The dramatic situation of workplace deaths and injuries as well as severe environmental pollution by mining is a sad reflection of this situation. Last year alone, 59 deaths and 199 injuries were reported, though the real number is likely to be much higher, as before 2018 employers were neither required to report accidents to the labour inspectors nor insure their workers.” The Working Group welcomed initial steps by the Government to rein in irresponsible business practices, after a decade with no labour inspections and weak regulation and oversight of development projects, including in the hydropower and mining sectors.

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Article
4 October 2019

Statement at the end of visit to Georgia by the United Nations Working Group on Business and Human Rights

Author: The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights

In our capacity as members of the United Nations Working Group on Business and Human Rights, we have today ended our visit to Georgia (3 to 12 April 2019)...A central theme in our meetings with government officials, businesses, civil society organizations and community members was the legacy of a decade of deregulation, and the need for a new approach compatible with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and human rights protection...As we witnessed, a one-eyed focus on attracting investment risk undermining efforts to promote responsible business conduct, unless there is a robust legal framework in place to protect human rights...From meetings held across the country, it was clear that most companies, including small and medium-sized enterprises, were not familiar with the concept of responsible business conduct and were unaware of their independent responsibility to respect human rights under the UNGPs. In this regard, we welcome the commitment of the Government and business associations to raise awareness about the UNGPs.

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