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14 Nov 2017

Surya Deva, UN Working Group, Business and Human Rights Journal

Commentary: Access to remedy requires taking human rights & rights holders seriously

"Access to remedy: taking human rights and rights holders seriously."

Access to effective remedy for the victims of corporate human rights abuses remains an exception rather than the rule. One of the reasons for the slow progress on realising effective remedies is that human rights and rights holders are not taken seriously enough by both states and businesses... 

Rights holders should be central to the entire remedy process, including to the question of effectiveness... Any process to remedy such harm should take both the rights holders and their sufferings seriously, otherwise remedies may not be regarded effective by those whose opinion should matter the most... [Also] different groups of rights holders experience the impacts of business-related human rights abuses differently and may face additional barriers... Unless states and business enterprises are sensitive to this diversity among rights holders, they may not be able to provide effective remedies to all individuals and communities...  [R]ights holders seeking remedies should not fear victimization;... no additional harm should be caused in the process of trying to redress the initial harm. 

[In addition,] to address a harm suffered by certain rights holders, multiple forms of remedies may be required, as no single remedy may be effective and different remedies may be more appropriate in different situation... In short, access to effective remedy from the perspective of rights holders is the barometer to measure how seriously states and businesses take the UNGPs. The time for talking is over: individuals and communities all over the world need timely and evidence-based progress in securing justice.