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7 Jun 2013

Annie Kelly, Guardian (UK)

Can post-conflict Colombia be a business and human rights leader?

...the United Fruit Company slaughter stands as a monument in the turbulent history of human rights and business in Colombia. Now...could a new era be dawning?..."...the country's reputation as a place where business was interlaced with conflict, security and environmental or social justice issues is beginning to shift. As a place where business and human rights intersect, Colombia is now becoming something of a global leader." [says John Morrison of Institute of Human Rights and Business]...Colombian businesses and a new wave of CEOs understand...that social impact is now more important than any other investment they will make – perhaps the product of coming through decades of civil conflict...The country has proved serious about trying to implement the UN Guiding Principles on Human Rights and Business...[and] the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights...According to some statistics, more than 80% of human rights violations in the past 10 years have been carried out in mining and energy regions in Colombia...In 2006...the Colombian Guidelines on Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (Guías Colombia) was launched by a group of businesses, civil society groups and the...government....Despite looking good on paper, Colombia still has much to prove in its quest to remodel itself as a global leader in human rights and business...Colombia remains the most dangerous place in the world to be a trade unionist...Lawsuits have been filed against US companies including Coca Cola, Dole, and Drummond, for allegedly using paramilitaries to kill trade unionists. [also refers to Cerrejón (joint venture Anglo American, BHP Billiton, Glencore Xstrata)]