The V Regional Forum on Business and Human Rights in Latin America and the Caribbean, which was held virtually on this occasion, focused mainly on the vulnerabilities that were deepened by the current situation of the COVID-19 pandemic in the region.

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From September 7 to 11, the V Regional Forum on Business and Human Rights for Latin America and the Caribbean was held virtually. The objective of this Forum is to host governments at all levels, companies, NGOs, indigenous communities and other civil society organizations in the same space with the aim of functioning as a means for dialogue between these actors.

The Regional Forums have become a key space in Latin America and the Caribbean, and in other regions of the world, so that the aforementioned actors can exchange visions and information on new business practices, legal systems, economic development plans and others. activities that can affect the human rights of different people or groups, report on these events and find solutions in a joint way, covering all spaces of society.

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s Forum paid special attention to those vulnerabilities that were deepened by the current situation; those people or communities that were already in unfavorable situations, and that, due to the global pandemic, their situation has worsened. The challenges that arise in this complex and unforeseen scenario must be addressed in a comprehensive manner and with all actors in society, from companies and governments to civil society and local communities, in order to overcome this crisis in an economically viable way. and environmentally sustainable.

The task in the post-pandemic will be to recover the standards of living lost during this year, especially due to the loss of employment, at the same time that the productive matrix and the business practices of the countries are reformulated towards a more sustainable and friendly one with the human rights. One of the instruments that can be implemented to achieve this objective are the “United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights”, also known as “Ruggie Principles”, drawn up in 2011 within the framework of the UN.

Broadly speaking, these 31 principles can be summarized in three pillars:

  • The duty of states to protect and safeguard human rights and freedoms.
  • The corporate responsibility to respect these rights.
  • Access to damage repair mechanism.

Currently, within the framework of the UN, negotiations and meetings are being carried out to carry out a legally binding international treaty on the responsibility of transnational companies for the human rights of the communities where they carry out their activities. This year, the treaty is in a sixth instance of review that will be discussed at the 9th annual UN Forum on Business and Human Rights, which will take place virtually from November 16 to 18.

We hope that the negotiations underway will culminate in a fruitful agreement for all the actors and above all with an agreement and correct implementation, which is not only limited to good intentions but also really serves to improve the relationship between business activity, the environment environment and local communities.

In turn, there are other general guidelines that can be followed and implemented to achieve the post-pandemic objectives, such as the “OECD Guidelines for Multinational Companies” or the “Tripartite Declaration of Principles on Multinational Companies and Social Policy” of the International Labor Organization (ILO).

Regional forums such as the one held in September, or those of a global nature such as the one to be held in November, constitute key spaces. Not only to advance the aforementioned initiatives underway, but also to deepen dialogue and promote greater articulation between the different actors involved in the processes aimed at ensuring greater promotion and protection of human rights by the private sector.