First regional debate regarding the impact of companies on human rights in Latin America and the Caribbean

Tuesday 27 August 2013

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Authorship: UN News.

Editorial and Canal: UN News.

Type of document: News.

Language: Spanish.

Subject: Development.

Keywords: Human rights, sustainable development, inequality, employment, companies, national and foreign investment, and poverty.

Countries and Regions: Latin America.

Over 400 global, regional and national representatives from companies, industrial associations, governments, regional and international bodies, unions, civil society, representatives from indigenous peoples and others will meet in the first Regional Forum of Latin America and the Caribbean on the impact of companies over human rights. Representatives of companies from the mining, energy-oil, food and beverages, banking and finances and agricultural sectors will form part of the dialogue with local communities, non-governmental organizations and officials from the public sector.

The multi-sector regional forum, organized by the UN Work Group on companies and human rights, together with the Regional Division for Latin America and the Caribbean of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and the government of Colombia will take place in en Medellin, Colombia, from 28 to 30 August 2013.

“Never before a regional meeting on companies and human rights, at such a level, has taken place”, said o Pavel Sulyandziga, the present chairman of the grup of five UN experts. “The Regional Forum of Latin America and the Caribbean will meet for the first time a wide range of interested parties, some having divergent criteria, in order to establish an open dialogue on how governments and companies are facing the impact of companies over human rights in the region. ”.

The objective of the Regional Forum is to spread the United Nations Guiding Principles related to companies and human rights *, the world authority standard to prevent and remedy adverse consequences of entrepreneurial activities on human rights.

The United Nations Guiding Principles stress the steps to be taken by States and companies in order to prevent and face adverse effects, as well as to ensure access to efficient repair mechanisms for both people and communities that have suffered the negative consequences of the activities by companies.

“The role of national and foreign companies in the society has been a polemic issue in the region. Inequality and poverty have contributed to historic offenses and to the mistrust toward companies. But conflict is not the solution” said Alexandra Guáqueta, the Spanish speaking member of the Work Group. “The region needs both jobs as well as social and economic inclusion. The Guiding Principles provide a solid platform to align entrepreneurial activities with human rights and sustainable development. Latin American culture has never questioned human rights. The region has a particular opportunity to be transformed into a leader regarding companies and human rights, to increase its competiveness in the global market and to take care of social needs”, stressed the expert.

“The Principles grant company foresee ability regarding what it is expected from them,” said Mr. Sulyandziga. “They also provide other interested parties, including the civil society and investors, the tools to measure advances where really matters – on the daily lives of people”.

This first regional meeting represents an opportunity to all interested parties for a dialogue on the challenges and the implementation of the United Nations Guiding Principles in sectors and specific operative contexts, related to rights and specific groups, including indigenous and African-descendent people.

In Latin America, as well as in other parts of the world, scores of national and foreign investments on extracting, agricultural and tourism industries have been blocked due to the social opposition and the uncertainty about the impact on health and the environment. “A new social contract, that takes into consideration the realities of globalization of the XXI Century is necessary”, said Michael Addo, the third member of the Work Group to be present in this first regional forum.

“This is a dialogue among key economic and political actors taking part in the design and implementation of new rules for the game in the accountability and corporative responsibility at a global level. Our role in the United Nations Work Group is to create a safe environment to solve problems and to innovate”, added Ms.Guáqueta.

The Latin American and Caribbean Regional Forum provides follow-up to the international dialogue held during the first United Nations Forum on companies and human rights, that gathered 1000 participants from over 80 countries in Geneva, last year. The results of the Regional Forum will be taken to the next Global Forum to be held in Geneva from 2-4 December, 2013.

Notes:

(*) Access the United Nations Guiding Principles on companies and human rights (Spanish/English): http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Busi... .

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