IACHR sets standards on "Business and Human Rights"

The IACHR published its thematic report on the inter-American standards on "Business and Human Rights", a valuable input on the development and protection of life and the environment in Latin America.

Men work in a lettuce plantation.

Men work in a lettuce plantation. / Photo: REUTERS / Paulo - Reference Image

LatinAmerican Post | Carolina Garzón Díaz

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The Special Rapporteurship on Economic, Social, Cultural and Environmental Rights (REDESCA) of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) published the Report "Business and Human Rights: Inter-American Standards", an analysis of the reports, pronouncements, conventions and the judgments issued by the Inter-American System (Inter-American Court and Inter-American Commission) in recent years on this matter.

It is the first time this body addresses this issue directly and aims to "clarify, organize and develop these state duties and the effects that may be generated on companies in their compliance from the inter-American legal experience.", Taking into account that the IACHR “part of the basis of the international obligations of States in the field of human rights in cases in which companies are in some way involved with the realization or affectation of said rights”.

During the process of preparing the report, representatives of the States and autonomous public bodies, civil society organizations, representatives of the academy and the business sector, among other stakeholders, participated.

What is the situation in Latin America about "business and human rights"?

This report of the IACHR responds to a reiterated request from civil society to the security problems experienced by hundreds of environmental defenders in America and the various human rights violations that have been denounced by communities affected by national and transnational business projects.

An indicator of this situation was reflected in the most recent report by the Global Witness (GW) organization, which documented the murder of 164 land and environment defenders in 2018, of which 83 occurred in Latin America. Colombia was the country with the highest number of murders on the continent with 24 defenders killed, becoming the second most dangerous in the world, after the Philippines.

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According to Global Witness, as well as other civil society organizations in the different countries of Latin America, the aggressions and murders of these defenders are related to their activism against national and international business projects. In addition, in relation to the report published by the IACHR, Global Witness warns that governments and companies would use legal threats to intimidate, stain the reputation and immobilize the defenders of the environment and the earth.

Recommendations of the IACHR

The 12 pages of recommendations in the report, addressed to States, companies and actors within the Organization of American States (OAS), are aimed at “human rights standards being a frame of reference to guide business practices” including a gender approach, a transparent tax system and actions for environmental protection and against climate change.

Finally, one of the most innovative contributions of this report is the development of the extraterritorial impact of companies, which is widely developed in the fourth chapter: “Extraterritorial application of the obligations of States in the context of business activities and the duty of co-operating". Likewise, the characterization that it makes in the seventh chapter on the vulnerability of certain populations in this context is highlighted, such as the risk of human rights defenders, women, indigenous pubs, Afro-descendant communications, peasants, children, LGBTI community, people with disabilities and older people, among others.

The full report can be downloaded from the website of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.

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