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UN Working Group on Business & Human Rights, UN Special Rapporteur on defenders & civil society jointly stress need to prevent attacks on defenders

"Time to act: Protect defenders who speak up against business impact on people and planet", 10 Dec 2019

On Human Rights Day, the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights together with the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders and a group of civil society organizations are highlighting a key message from the recent UN Forum on Business and Human Rights...: that the international community must take concrete actions to prevent attacks against human rights and environmental defenders who put their lives at risk to protect those affected by business activities...,[echoed] by the “Zero Tolerance” declaration issued by a range of defenders and NGOs prior to the Forum...Many of the main drivers of...attacks, [and] the recommendations on how to address them, are well understood by now...Recent positive initiatives [include] resolution adopted in... UN General Assembly in November 2019,... Canada’s government updated “Voices at risk” guidelines..., developments by some international financial institutions to introduce protocols to address reprisals... [But] a lot more is needed... all states need to do more to address drivers of attacks. This includes strong legal protection of human rights, including land, labour, and indigenous peoples’ rights, and laws to recognize the role of defenders, mandating...financial institutions...to create appropriate...mechanisms..., introducing mandatory corporate “human rights due diligence”, that recognizes..risks to defenders. The UN Guiding Principles... already provide a clear framework to protect...defenders in the context of business.... [They] clarify that when states fail in their duty, companies nevertheless have a responsibility to prevent and address attacks against defenders linked to their own operations and business relationships...