Should businesses advocate for human rights defenders? What is the relationship between companies’ economic activities and civil society? The United Nations, through the Working Group on Business and Human Rights, has shed further light on the role of businesses by recently releasing a guidance for companies on ensuring respect for human rights defenders.
This new guidance is a landmark for the protection of human rights defenders, building on a premise that ISHR has promoted for years: business and human rights defenders operate in and benefit from a “shared civic space” defined by common, fundamental elements. Respect for the rule of law and freedom of expression, association, assembly and public participation are essential to the realisation of all human rights, to good governance and accountable institutions. But they are also critical elements to stable, profitable and sustainable business environments in which companies thrive and economies and people prosper.
Andrés Zaragoza, Programme Manager at ISHR added: “The standard of good and responsible business conduct in relation to human rights defenders is now clear. Global companies should take note and implement the recommendations of the United Nations if they want to continue claiming that they contribute to sustainable development”.
There is both a legal duty and a growing global expectation for businesses and investors to act responsibly and to respect human rights. This trend is reflected in the enactment of special due diligence legal provisions in many jurisdictions and by the growing consensus around what sustainable and responsible business means.
June marks the tenth anniversary of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, which we should celebrate while recognising that most of the work is still to be done.
This statement can be found here.
In the first case on violence against trans people heard by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, the Court held Honduras responsible for the transfemicide of human rights defender Vicky Hernández.
It's difficult to encapsulate such a complex year in a word, but "interconnected" is one that comes to mind when reflecting on 2020. We are proud to have remained deeply interconnected with defenders and to have supported, protected and amplified their work at the national, regional and international levels. With them, the "essential workers" of our times, we strive for a 2021 full of freedom, equality, dignity and justice.