From August 29 to September 7, the United Nations Working Group on companies and human rights will make its first official visit to Mexico with the purpose of observing that the Mexican government and companies fulfill their obligations on the question of human rights. The group will meet with government officials, companies, human rights defenders, as well as representatives of indigenous peoples and communities in Mexico City and the states of Mexico, Oaxaca, Jalisco and Sonora.
On the occasion of this visit, more than 100 organizations, movements and civil society networks published a report that outlines the major violations of human rights by businesses. The report covers the involvement of 99 companies: 41 domestic, 50 foreign, and eight public. It highlights that in more than half of the cases there was some kind of intimidation or attacks against human rights defenders and notes that the most frequent violations were of the right to land and territory; the right of access to information; to a healthy environment; negative effects on health and lack of compliance with indigenous rights. The collective of organizations reported that progress of the UN Guiding Principles is impeded due to state complicity with business interests over the protection of the public interest; structural reforms that weaken the protection of human rights, such as energy reform; lack of prior consultation and of prior, free, informed, culturally appropriate agreements made in good faith, among others.
It is worth recalling that the UN established this Working Group in 2011, after unanimously approving the “Guidelines on Companies and Human Rights”, which oblige states to protect their citizens “from abuses of human rights in their territories, including from companies.” These state that governments should “take the necessary steps to prevent, investigate, punish and redress” abuses by companies and legislate for them to respect human rights in their operations. This guide also urges companies – “irrespective of their size, sector, operational context, owners or structure” – not to “contribute to negative impacts on human rights through their activities” and identify in advance the effects on the human rights that they could generate.
At the end of their mission, experts will hold a press conference to share the preliminary observations of their visit, which will later serve as the basis for a published report.
For more information in Spanish:
Grupo de Trabajo de la ONU sobre empresas y derechos humanos visitará México (Boletín oficial de la ONU, 24 de agosto de 2016)
ONU verificará respeto a derechos humanos en empresas y gobiernos de México (Revista Proceso, 24 de agosto de 2016)
Verificarán expertos de la ONU que empresas eólicas o mineras no violen DH en Oaxaca (Página3.mx, 24 de agosto de 2016)
BOLETÍN E INFORME: Pide sociedad civil a la ONU documentar violaciones a derechos humanos por parte de empresas (ProDesc, 28 de agosto de 2016)
Empresas ¿versus? Derechos Humanos (Revista Proceso, 29 de agosto de 2016)