Tag Archive for: Human Rights and Companies

“Below, we offer a google translate version of the original article in Spanish. This translation may not be accurate but serves as a general presentation of the article. For more accurate information, please switch to the Spanish version of the website. In addition, feel free to directly contact in English the person mentioned at the bottom of this article with regards to this topic”


Like every year, during the month of November, the United Nations Forum on Human Rights and Business is held in Geneva. Whenever this event takes place, a particular theme is designated that will be the protagonist. This year, this theme has to do with: ‘access to repair mechanisms’.

The umbrella that protects this high-level meeting is subject to the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. These Principles constitute the current tool to regulate the actions of national and transnational companies regarding human rights. They were born with the academic John Ruggie and were adopted by the United Nations in 2011, by the Human Rights Council, through resolution 17/4. The objectives of the Board at that time were: identify and clarify corporate responsibility standards; and clarify the role of states. To this end, the established guidelines were divided into three fundamental pillars: the duty of the State to protect human rights, the responsibility of companies to respect human rights and access to redress mechanisms.

The mandate of these guiding principles is to “reduce as much as possible the negative impacts of business on human rights in a short period of time“. They also have general characteristics: (a) they cover all States. (b) they cover all companies, of all sizes, in all sectors and in all countries. (c) identify different but complementary responsibilities between States and companies. (d) they do not create new legal obligations, they elaborate based on existing obligations and best practices for States and companies. (e) are based on the idea that it can not be compensated: positive impacts do not compensate for negative impacts on human rights elsewhere. (f) they are a mixture of regulatory and voluntary approaches.

The context that gave birth to these principles is not different from that of today. The actions of the companies (even after the adoption of the principles) and their consequences, continue to show that national and international regulatory frameworks have not met the objective of protecting human rights. During 2016 we have witnessed the largest massacre of human rights defenders. Around the world, vulnerable communities have been violated their rights (housing, health, life, a healthy environment, among others) because of the actions of companies and corporations.

This situation has shown that the guiding principles have not yet managed to become an effective preventive framework regarding human rights violations due to corporate actions. In this sense, it is understandable why in the session of the Forum this year 2017 has focused on access to reparation. This third pillar refers to the existence of effective remedies for victims of human rights violations. At the state level, it is expected that States take appropriate measures to investigate, punish and repair. On the part of the corporations, the principles encourage the existence of early warnings that identify negative impacts and allow resolving complaints before the situation escalates to more damaging scenarios.

Since DD.HH. are currently at the mercy of business activity, the role of the States becomes fundamental. Specifically in regard to the strengthening of regulatory frameworks at the domestic level. For this, an essential part of the obligations of the States has to do with: ensuring access to judicial and non-judicial mechanisms; and reduce the obstacles to access to justice. In this regard, it is necessary to emphasize that non-judicial mechanisms play a very important complementary role. Some of them include: State mechanisms, national human rights institutions, ombudsmen, complaints offices, National Contact Points (OECD), among others.

The application of the guiding principles by the States has been given through the form of National Plans of Action. It is expected that these plans will be constituted as instruments that:

– Promote greater coordination among government agencies with direct involvement in business issues and human rights.

– Promote the protection of human rights through due diligence in companies.

– Identify national priorities regarding this topic and translate them into concrete public policies

– Ensure monitoring and evaluation of the implementation of the plan, in a continuous manner.

– Are based on a platform of continuous dialogue with all the actors involved (government, companies and civil society)

– Possess a flexible format for cooperation, coordination and international exchange of good practices and lessons learned.

– Strengthen regulations at the domestic level.

The result of the development of these plans around the world leaves much to be desired. There are still many States that have not embarked on this process and those that have done so have not succeeded in having their plans promote a framework strong enough to respect, protect and / or remedy.

The situation of widespread vulnerability to this problem has raised doubts about the effectiveness of the guiding principles, and a process to create a legally binding instrument has been developed at the same time. During the Forum, it is expected to debate about the roles that the principles and the binding treaty would occupy. Although opinions are divided (between those who support one initiative or another) it is necessary to clarify that the principles and the treaty are complementary. A binding instrument is a step forward with respect to the guidelines. To achieve this progress it is necessary to protect the autonomy of the process of construction of the treaty since, in short, this initiative would give greater impetus to the guiding principles, and would give greater and better content to the action plans.

More information

– Advancing towards a binding treaty on transnational corporations and human rights

– Discussions in Argentina regarding a business treaty and human rights

– We participate in the second regional consultation of ECLAC on human rights and companies


 Agustina Palencia, agustinapalencia@fundeps.org


Juan Carballo, juanmcarballo@fundeps.org

“Below, we offer a google translate version of the original article in Spanish. This translation may not be accurate but serves as a general presentation of the article. For more accurate information, please switch to the Spanish version of the website. In addition, feel free to directly contact in English the person mentioned at the bottom of this article with regards to this topic”


The idea of ​​moving forward in an international instrument that responds to the regulatory challenges generated by the actions of international companies is taking on a new impetus in 2013, based on the initiative of a group of countries from Latin America, Asia and Africa. From the identification of numerous cases of human rights violations by transnational corporations, it was decided to create a space that would allow the debate on the creation of a legally binding instrument. The statement made at that time highlighted that:

The growing number of cases of human rights abuses and violations committed by transnational corporations remind us of the need to move towards a legally binding framework to regulate the work of transnational corporations and to provide adequate protection, justice and reparations to victims of transnational corporations. abuses against human rights, related to the activities of certain transnational corporations and other enterprises.

So far, the legal framework regulating the activities of international companies has been summarized in non-binding instruments and mechanisms: among them the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, the OECD Guidelines and the UN Working Group on companies and human rights. Such instruments have limited powers to monitor companies’ compliance with the Principles and only provide a partial response to urgent issues related to human rights abuses by transnational corporations. These principles and mechanisms do not adequately respond to the regulatory challenges of actors such as international companies. In addition, they fail to secure access to justice in the face of actions by transnational corporations that have an impact on human rights or to ensure adequate reparations for victims.
Resolution 26/9, established by the United Nations Human Rights Council on 26 June 2014, created the Working Group mandated “to develop a legally binding instrument to regulate the activities of transnational corporations and other enterprises in international human rights law“.
An international legally binding instrument, adopted within the United Nations system, would make clear the obligations of transnational corporations, both in the field of human rights and in the face of States. It would also allow for fair reparations for victims in cases where it is clearly impossible to effectively prosecute companies with domestic legislation.

Meetings were held in the years following the formation of the intergovernmental group (2015 and 2016) to further advance the treaty negotiations. In 2017, the third session of the group was held, seeking to outline a possible textof the legally binding instrument.

During the course of the first two sessions both civil society organizations and participating States stressed that:

– The Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights did not address the core of the debate on maximum protection of human rights and access to justice and redress.

– Any binding instrument should clearly establish the obligation of transnational corporations to respect environmental, health and labor standards and international humanitarian law.

– The gender perspective was requested to be incorporated into the instrument, as human rights violations committed by transnational corporations could accentuate previous inequalities and have negative gender consequences.

– It was noted that the working group process was related to the implementation of Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development.

– International financial institutions could also be included in the scope of the instrument, which would be consistent with international law.

– The size of the companies to which the treaty should apply was discussed, taking into account the activities of all companies, but focusing on transnational corporations.

– NGOs agreed to recognize the principle of human rights hierarchy in other areas of international law, in particular the rules on trade and investment protection.

For the 2017 session civil society has sought to achieve greater commitment on the road to the creation of the treaty. Numerous organizations and social movements are driving the generation of this instrument to finally achieve better levels of accountability on the part of transnational corporations. Groups such as Stop Corporate Impunity and Treaty Movement have been involved in trying to incorporate the vision of civil society organizations into the text of the treaty. In addition, the G77 + China Group, in its Ministerial Declaration of 2017, emphasized the importance and acceptance of a binding treaty; and urged Member States to participate in the third session to be held in Geneva.

In contrast, the International Business Community has emphasized that the elements to be included in the treaty proposed by the Intergovernmental Group represent a ‘setback on the commitments assumed from the Guiding Principles’. In this regard, it was emphasized that the almost exclusive approach in transnational corporations does not take into account the serious human rights violations caused by the actions of national companies. Likewise, it stresses that the creation of a legally binding instrument removes the power of States, and even underestimates them, when enforcing the current regulations. In addition, the need to strengthen state institutions is emphasized rather than embarking on the creation of such an instrument.

Since the creation of the Intergovernmental Working Group, the debate has focused on the need to define the approach of the treaty. Civil society has stressed the urgent need to involve transnational corporations, while the corporate community and the states of the European Union plus the United States have rejected this perspective.

The role of Argentina in the face of the discussion

Argentina’s position on this issue has not been entirely clear. During the management of Cristina Fernandez, the decision was to abstain in the vote to try to create the binding instrument. However, under the management of Mauricio Macri, there was no formalisation of a position. However, following a request for access to information to the Ministry of RREE and Worship, a response was received which showed that the Argentine Republic shares the growing interest of the international community in linking corporate responsibility with respect to human rights. In the same way, it maintains an active commitment with the initiatives aimed at raising the standards in this matter.

In this sense, it should be mentioned that it seems that Argentina is positively inclined towards this initiative. It is also worth noting that in the middle of this year a first version of a National Action Plan for the application of the Guiding Principles on Human Rights and Business was presented.

During the remaining days of the third session, the debate will continue on the generation of a binding instrument and we hope that the result will be a substantive advance regarding the obligations of companies to respect and guarantee human rights. Likewise, we hope that Argentina will assume a position of support for this initiative and that in that process it will allow the participation of civil society organizations and in particular of communities that have been impacted by the actions of transnational corporations.


Agustina Palencia, agustinapalencia@fundeps.org 


Juan Carballo, juanmcarballo@fundeps.org

From April 18 to 22, the World Bank’s spring meetings were held in Washington. On April 20 we presented a panel on the legal framework of Public-Private Partnership Projects and Infrastructure Projects in Latin America with the NGOs that make up GREFI.

“Below, we offer a google translate version of the original article in Spanish. This translation may not be accurate but serves as a general presentation of the article. For more accurate information, please switch to the Spanish version of the website. In addition, feel free to directly contact in English the person mentioned at the bottom of this article with regards to this topic”


Spring meetings of the World Bank are being held in Washington, DC from April 18 to 22. On April 20 we presented a panel on the legal framework of Public-Private Partnership Projects and Infrastructure Projects in Latin America with the NGOs that make up GREFI.

From April 18 to 22, the Spring Meetings of the World Bank took place in Washington. These meetings of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank Group (GBM) meet annually with central bank authorities, finance and development ministers, private sector executives and representatives of academic circles.

The aim is to discuss issues of global concern, such as the global economic outlook, the end of poverty, economic development and aid effectiveness. In addition, seminars, regional briefings, press conferences and many other activities focusing on the world economy, international development and the global financial system are organized.

Within this framework and within the Civil Society Policy Forum, we will be presenting, together with the NGOs that make up the Regional Group on Financing and Infrastructure, a panel on the legal framework of Public-Private Partnership Projects and Infrastructure Projects in Latin America. Martha Torres Marcos-Ibanez of Law, Environment and Natural Resources will moderate the panel. The exhibitors will be Vanessa Torres from Environment and Society Association, María José Romero from Eurodad, Nancy Alexander from Heinrich Boell Foundation and Heike Mainhardt from Bank Information Center (BIC).

Public-private partnership (PPP) projects have gained a key role in the development of infrastructure projects in Latin America. In this context, the legal framework of PPPs has been deepened in several countries of the region in order to improve and promote the use of this form of investment in the implementation of mega projects in Latin America. It is becoming more common to see how the private sector is taking on the responsibilities and duties of the state alone, and the best example is the provision of public services and the development of infrastructure. In this regard, PPPs have been used by governments as a powerful tool to boost the economy through increased infrastructure development and as a mechanism to bridge the infrastructure gap. This panel intends to report on the legal framework of PPPs in Latin America, more precisely in Peru and Colombia. The legal instruments used by the private sector and the State will be developed to implement the PPPs and will focus on the gaps in the legal framework that generate environmental and social risks in the implementation of infrastructure projects under APP.

On 20 April, we also moderated a panel on accountability mechanisms in financial institutions. We also participated in meetings with the Independent Consultation and Investigation Mechanism of the Inter-American Development Bank and the Inter-American Investment Corporation.

More information



Juan Carballo – juanmcarballo@fundeps.org

The Bank Group of Thun published a document about the implications of the UN Guiding Principles for corporate and investment banking. A group of civil society organizations publicly criticise these statements.

“Below, we offer a google translate version of the original article in Spanish. This translation may not be accurate but serves as a general presentation of the article. For more accurate information, please switch to the Spanish version of the website. In addition, feel free to directly contact in English the person mentioned at the bottom of this article with regards to this topic.”


Faced with the risks involved in the Thun Group document, a group of civil society organizations issued an open letter criticizing many of the issues raised in that document. We signed the letter 34 academic and civil society organizations from 17 countries, including BankTrack, SOMO, Oxfam, Greenpeace, Global Witness and OECD Watch.

The Thun Group document develops a conceptual framework for the implementation of the Guiding Principles on Transnational Corporations and Human Rights for banks in a context of corporate and investment banking. This document misrepresents principle 13.

The letter requests that the Thun Group demonstrate that it is prepared to participate in the OECD Proactive Agenda Project in good faith by amending the document they have issued and making it clear that it recognizes and respects the advice of the Office of the High Commissioner for United Nations for Human Rights.

The guiding principles are a set of guidelines agreed upon by the international community as a guideline that guides both States in their work to protect human rights and companies in their duty to respect them. This work was led by Professor Ruggie. These principles were adopted unanimously in 2011 by the United Nations Human Rights Council.

In this context, on 21 February, Professor Ruggie of Harvard responded strongly to the Thun Group document. He is “deeply concerned” by the document and raises similar points to those of the open letter. “They can undermine attempts by banks and others to fulfill their responsibility to respect human rights.” In addition, he adds that:

“It is a good example that a group of large banks are doing important work on the application of UNGPs to their sector. But I am afraid that misinterpretation of the basic elements of UNGPs and their implications in this document can seriously damage I would urge the Group to reflect on these issues and consider the possibility of issuing a future document more in line with the basic elements of the UNGPs.”

On 23 February, the coordinator of the United Nations Working Group promoting the implementation of the Guiding Principles for Business and Human Rights also responded by inviting Thun Group banks to review the document “to align it with UNGPs” The Working Group considers that the discussion paper offers some useful practical considerations for banks in certain situations where they may be directly linked to the effects of human rights through the financial products or services they provide to third parties , Which may contribute or cause a human rights conflict abuse.

“The efforts of the Thun Group to explore the practical implications of the UNGPs are welcome … However, these instruments of practice that seek to interpret the meaning of UNGPs in a sector-specific context should be subject to a consultation process And review by other stakeholders in order to ensure accuracy, soundness and legitimacy. “

The Working Group believes that if not addressed, this can cause unnecessary confusion on UNGPs, which may undermine attempts by banks and others to fulfill their responsibility to respect human rights. It should be noted that the discussion paper of the Thun Group was approved by Barclays, BBVA, BNP Paribas, Credit Suisse AG, Deutsche Bank, ING, JPMorgan, RBS, Standard Chartered, UBS Group AG and UniCredit.

On 28 February Christian Leitz on behalf of the Thun Group responded to the CSO group, Professor John Ruggie and the UN Working Group. He claims to be trying to generate a constructive discussion between banks and other interested parties but has not indicated any willingness to revise the document. And it hopes to continue with stakeholders in upcoming multi-stakeholder forums by discussing the document.

A meeting open to all signatories of the letter is scheduled for 19 June where a broader dialogue with the Thun Group will take place. Professor Ruggie has said he will consider participating in this meeting if they retracted the premise that banks can not contribute to damage through their relationships with customers.

In the counter response, civil society organizations express two concerns about the June meeting. On the one hand, define a stakeholder engagement strategy as promised by the Thun Group at its last public meeting. And secondly, that you withdraw and reconsider your recent document.

From FUNDEPS we follow this process and we expect a change in the response that has given the Thun Group. The Guiding Principles on Transnational Corporations and Human Rights were created to “protect, respect and remedy” human rights, and we expect cooperation from states, private sectors and civil society to fulfill their commitments.

More information

Thun Group of Banks releases new Discussion Paper on implications of UN Guiding Principles for corporate & investment banking; commentaries provided

Leading banks under fire for misrepresenting human rights responsibilities


Victoria Gerbaldo / Encargada de Proyectos del Área de Gobernabilidad Global


During 2016 more than 280 human rights and environmental activists were murdered in 25 countries, marking a growing radicalization of violence towards them. The murders that occurred during the first weeks of 2017 have ratified this worrying trend. From FUNDEPS we join the widespread demand for a change in the situation of those who have seen their rights vulnerable due to the protection of the environment, the territory, the rights of indigenous peoples, among others.

“Below, we offer a google translate version of the original article in Spanish. This translation may not be accurate but serves as a general presentation of the article. For more accurate information, please switch to the Spanish version of the website. In addition, feel free to directly contact in English the person mentioned at the bottom of this article with regards to this topic”


“On March 2, 2016, gunmen stormed the house of environmental activist Berta Cáceres in the middle of the night and shot her dead. Cáceres had spent several years attempting to stop the construction of a hydroelectric dam in the land of his community in Intibucá, in western Honduras, which endangered a vital and sacred water source for the indigenous Lenca people. Less than a year before his death, he had delivered a poignant address to a crowded auditorium when he was awarded the Goldman Environment Award of 2015 for his exceptional courage in the field of environmental activism”

So begins the latest report by Global Witness, an organization that exposes the hidden links between the demand for natural resources, corruption, armed conflict and the destruction of the environment. The reason for this report is to expose the situation of human rights defenders in Honduras, identified by the report as “the deadliest country in the world for environmental activism”. The appalling levels of violence and intimidation suffered by rural communities are documented as opposing the imposition of dams, mines, logging or agriculture on their land, projects controlled by rich and powerful elites, including members of the political class. The root causes of these abuses are widespread corruption and failure to provide adequate consultation to those affected by these projects.

According to Global Witness’s research, since the coup d’état of 2009, 123 land and environmental activists have been killed in Honduras; Many others have been threatened, attacked or imprisoned. Throughout 2016, human rights defenders from all regions of the world have faced attacks because of their work to improve and defend the human rights of their communities. They have been persecuted by both state and non-state actors who sought to discourage, discredit and disrupt their non-violent activities.

According to FrontLine Defenders in its latest report of late 2016 the number of murders in 2016 was an increase over the previous year’s figure. About 281 people were killed in 25 countries. 49% of these defenders worked to defend the environment, the territory and the rights of indigenous peoples. Some of the cases occurred when local defenders launched campaigns against multinational corporations and resisted the occupation of their land and forced relocations, which were often carried out without adequate consultation or compensation.

In addition to the above, ProtectDefenders.eu, the European Union’s defense mechanism, recognized that human rights defenders throughout the world are frequently subjected to harassment and false criminal accusations aimed at paralyzing, Intimidate and delegitimize their activities for human rights. They have difficulties in developing their work in increasingly restrictive environments in which the right to freedom of association, expression and peaceful assembly; they do not exist. Permits are permanently revoked by human rights NGOs, bank accounts are seized and their right to access foreign funds is violated. An increasing number of States have also developed a systematic pattern of obstacles to the freedom of movement (through the use of travel bans) of human rights defenders, with the clear intention of isolating them.

The murder of the defenders impacts in a way that goes even further than their own death. They affect the entire human rights community. Organizations that have been in charge of investigating the situation of defenders around the world have often come across that their killings have usually been framed in previous protests against multinational companies. It also highlights the role of complicity of governments in these attitudes that have resulted in the deaths of hundreds of people throughout the world.

Land rich in natural resources in Central and South America, Africa and Asia continue to be a source of conflict between the extractive industry and indigenous peoples in the context of projects frequently financed by international financial institutions (IFIs) or by Western and Chinese companies. The lack of checks and balances on human rights issues within these institutions, often accompanied by the abovementioned complicity of the current government, has resulted in intimidation of the local population and other more serious things, Has led them to consider that their concerns have not been adequately addressed.

So far this year 2017, new murders have been visualized to defenders. Isidro Baldenegro, an indigenous ecologist, defender of forests in the Tarahumara sierra, Mexico, was killed during the month of January. Two weeks later Juan Ontiveros Ramos, Mexican defender was brutally beaten along with other members of his family and taken to the force. On 1 February, the activist’s body was found. Likewise, on Tuesday, January 17, demonstrators led a peaceful demonstration against a hydroelectric plant in Guatemala. But the event ended with death after the paramilitaries killed and 72-year-old activist Sebastián Alonso.

From FUNDEPS we join in the widespread demand to prevent this type of behavior against environmental and human rights defenders from being perpetuated in 2017. Our work has been closely related to the monitoring of projects financed by international financial institutions, as well as Also a good part of those projects that have counted on Chinese financing. We emphasize the need for civil society to continue with its control tasks on this type of projects, while ensuring respect for the rights of those who exercise this type of task.

More information


Gonzalo Roza – gon.roza@fundeps.org

The Second Regional Consultation for Latin America and the Caribbean on the Implementation of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights was held during the week of January 17-19 in the city of Santiago de Chile. The meeting was attended by governments, businessmen and civil society organizations.

“Below, we offer a google translate version of the original article in Spanish. This translation may not be accurate but serves as a general presentation of the article. For more accurate information, please switch to the Spanish version of the website. In addition, feel free to directly contact in English the person mentioned at the bottom of this article with regards to this topic”

During the year 2016, the first consultation was held and it was concluded that it was necessary to make progress in a regional report on human rights and business. In 2017, the second meeting was convened in order to continue the effort to implement the Guiding Principles, serving as a platform for dialogue among various actors, to illustrate the content of an agenda that guides the policies related to the subject matter ( Both in the public and private spheres) towards the progressive enjoyment of human rights in the context of business operations.

The Guiding Principles are based on the recognition of: (a) Current obligations of States to respect, protect and fulfill human rights and fundamental freedoms; (B) The role of companies as specialized bodies of society which perform specialized functions and which must comply with all applicable laws and respect human rights; C) The need for rights and obligations to be accompanied by adequate and effective remedies in case of non-compliance. These principles apply to all States and to all enterprises, whether transnational or otherwise, irrespective of their size, sector, location, owners and structure.

The expected results of this consultation were related to:

  • Recognize international developments in business and human rights;
  • Recognize outstanding challenges and regional reality in the development and implementation of national action plans and public policies on business and human rights;
  • Sharing experiences of different stakeholders on their relationship with the Guiding Principles and national action plans;
  • Identify opportunities to improve collaboration between countries and regions, and to continue the peer learning mechanism;
  • Evaluate progress on the regional agenda on business and human rights.

It should be noted that prior to the meeting, FUNDEPS and other civil society organizations signed a letter to encourage greater participation by civil society in this consultation. As a result of this request, a specific panel was incorporated for the organizations at the same time as the interventions of this sector were prioritized over the three days.

The consultation was attended by American governments (Argentina, Mexico, Brazil, Chile, Colombia and the United States), representatives of civil society organizations and representatives of companies that are working on the implementation of the guiding principles. Each of the participating governments showed progress in the design and implementation of a national plan that addresses the application of the principles. For their part, representatives of civil society had the opportunity to express their concerns and perceptions about the work that governments and companies have been doing on this issue.

In the same way as in the case of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), FUNDEPS considers it of great importance to promote such initiatives that seek to provide greater transparency and accountability in the Private sector, but without neglecting the responsibility of national governments. Particularly in Argentina, and taking into account the current scenario of foreign investment, characterized by an increasing role of private sector investments (the case of investments of Chinese companies or the growing portfolio of projects of the Inter-American Investment Corporation, for example ) Or through Public-Private Associations, we believe that it is vital that both the national government and those of a local nature do not lose sight of these guiding principles in order to guarantee respect for human rights within the framework of business activities. We also hope that the process of designing a national human rights and business plan will have a space for civil society input.

More information


Agustina Palencia – agustinapalencia@fundeps.org