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28 Mar 2023

OECD Watch

UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders urges stronger text on reprisals in OECD Guidelines

In a statement to the OECD Working Party on Responsible Business Conduct, the UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights Defenders Mary Lawlor has urged governments to strengthen text on reprisals in the OECD Guidelines revision by ensuring explicit use of the term “human rights defenders.”

… SR Lawlor writes: “Simply put, if human rights defenders are not named in legislation, policies or guidelines, they will most likely not be considered when it comes to consultation and due diligence...”

Lawlor notes that failing explicitly to recognise “human rights defenders” in the standards would cut against the approach of the draft EU Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive as well as the policies and initiatives of most OECD member states.

The Working Party on RBC is meeting in Paris March 27-28 to discuss updates to the OECD Guidelines, including in relation to reprisals against human rights defenders. In respect of reprisals, OECD Watch is urging inclusion of the term “human rights defender” as well as other key amendments, including reference to the UN Declaration on human rights defenders and additional expectation of enterprises to take preventative steps such as adoption of zero tolerance policies towards reprisals and proactive engagement with stakeholders including states...