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26 Apr 2022

Indigenous Peoples Rights International

Briefing: UNGPs and the protection of the rights of Indigenous Peoples in the context of business operations

"Indigenous peoples, human rights and business activities: UNGPs and the protection of the rights of Indigenous Peoples in the context of business operations", April 2022

UN human rights bodies have reiterated that indigenous peoples’ individual and collective human rights are disproportionally impacted by business operations that take place in or around their traditional lands and territories. These impacts include forced displacement, dispossession of lands and resources, and other gross human rights violations, including massacres, murder, torture, rape, incarceration and judicial harassment and other types of violence and criminalization.

Due to this situation, developments at the international level regarding compulsory human rights due diligence by the private sector, as well as compliance with the State duty to protect from human rights violations have particular importance in the defense of indigenous peoples’ rights. One such development was the adoption in 2011 of the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights: a Framework to Protect, Respect and Remedy (UNGPs). As a widely endorsed framework, there were expectations that UNGPs would contribute to ensuring respect for and protection of human rights in the context of business operations.

More than ten years after their adoption, expectations have not been fulfilled. After assessing progress in implementation, the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights (WGBHR) concluded that big gaps remain, including in protection of indigenous peoples confronting violations of their rights in the context of business activities and in the protection and respect of the rights enshrined in United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), including free, prior and informed consent (FPIC).

This briefing paper provides information regarding the UNGPs, the UNGP+10 process and the work of the UN WGBHR in relation to indigenous peoples’ rights, and some initiatives undertaken by Indigenous Peoples Rights International (IPRI) and its ally organizations so that further implementation of UNGPs ensures respect for the UNDRIP and contributes to the end of the violence and criminalization against indigenous peoples in the context of business operations.