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Artigo

5 Jul 2021

Author:
Working Group on Business and Human Rights

UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights presents guidance on respect for human rights defenders to Human Rights Council

'The Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights: guidance on ensuring respect for human rights defenders Report of the Working Group on the issue of human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises', 28 June 2021

Threats to human rights defenders and to civic freedoms are increasing concerns globally – a trend that has intensified under the guise of the COVID-19 crisis. A large number of human rights defenders are under threat and attack because they raise concerns about adverse human rights impacts of business operations, often in the context of large development projects that affect access to land and livelihoods. At the same time, the space for civil society actors to raise concerns about human rights impacts is shrinking, and human rights defenders face reprisals including criminalisation of their engagement in public protest or civil dissent.

Defenders are often attacked because they shine a light on the underlying patterns of harmful business conduct and investment. As businesses, often in collaboration with the State, seek access to natural resources and land, for example, they may engage in economic activity that adversely impacts the rights of communities, including water, environmental and land rights... it is important to address and prevent such underlying abuses as part of a holistic approach to securing sustainable and rights-respecting business models...

In the present report, the Working Group provides guidance to States and businesses on the implications of the Guiding Principles for engaging with, and safeguarding the rights of, human rights defenders...

The Business and Human Rights Resource Centre documented an increase during 2020 in attacks against human rights defenders working on business-related human rights issues, with 604 attacks in 2020, up from 572 attacks in 2019, 11 and agribusiness and mining remained the sectors most related to attacks, with 140 cases related to mining and 137 cases related to agribusiness in 2020...

Pillar II of the Guiding Principles and Principles 11-24 set out the corporate responsibility to respect human rights... [B]usiness enterprises have a responsibility to avoid infringing the human rights of those who defend them... Concretely, it means that business enterprises need to ensure, as a minimum, that their activities, actions and omissions, do not lead to retaliation, violence, death, legal harassment or any other form of silencing or stigmatisation of human rights defenders, and they need to address adverse impacts on human rights defenders with which they are involved... At every level of its operations, a business enterprise needs to understand the manifold risks to human rights defenders and the ways in which they manifest in all levels of a supply chain...