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Article

24 Nov 2022

Author:
Adam Cornwell, Lakehead University, Adrian Murray, University of Ottawa & 98 others

Canada: Open letter from academics & lawyers urges govt. to implement mandatory human rights & environmental due diligence

"Make human rights and environmental due diligence mandatory for Canadian corporations ", 21 Nov 2022

We are calling on the Government of Canada to enact legislation that would require Canadian corporations1 to prevent and remedy human rights and environmental harms in their business activities and relationships abroad. This legislation must also provide affected people and communities around the world with access to justice through Canadian courts.

Canadian multinationals continue to be implicated in serious human rights abuses and environmental damage throughout the globe. The communities and workers who suffer these harms are often unable to access justice or remedy in their own countries, while human rights and environmental defenders who stand up to powerful corporations frequently face violence, including assault, murder, rape, death threats, intimidation and criminalization ...

Harmful behaviour of Canadian companies persists despite decades of public pressure and repeated corporate commitments to voluntary codes of responsible business conduct. For over two decades, the Canadian government has merely “expect[ed]” and “encourag[ed]” Canadian companies to respect human rights throughout their global operations and supply chains. In the absence of binding rules that enshrine these principles in Canadian law, companies operating abroad too often fail to deliver on their responsibilities.

The United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, adopted unanimously by the United Nations Human Rights Council in 2011, with broad support from business actors, sets a clear global standard regarding the responsibilities of businesses to prevent, address and remedy all human rights harms they cause or contribute to. The Canadian government must uphold these principles by implementing a comprehensive and mandatory human rights and environmental due diligence (mHREDD) law.

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