UK shows welcome leadership on human rights defenders and corporate accountability

04.09.2013

(Geneva) – The United Kingdom has demonstrated important leadership in relation to the protection of human rights defenders working on issues of corporate accountability, the International Service for Human Rights said today.

 

(Geneva) – The United Kingdom has demonstrated important leadership in relation to the protection of human rights defenders working on issues of corporate accountability, the International Service for Human Rights said today.

The UK Government today released a national action plan and guidelines on business and human rights. The action plan is intended to provide guidance to UK companies, operating both at home and extraterritorially, to integrate human rights into their operations.

ISHR particularly welcomes the commitments made by the UK Government in the action plan to:

  • Instruct the UK’s embassies and high commissions to support human rights defenders working on issues related to business and human rights; and
  • Provide financial support, through the FCO Human Rights and Democracy Programme, to civil society organisations to ‘promote protection of human rights defenders who are actively engaged on issues relating to business and human rights’.

‘ISHR welcomes the UK’s important and timely leadership in seeking to support and protect human rights defenders who work on issues of corporate accountability,’ said ISHR’s head of UN Human Rights Council advocacy, Michael Ineichen.

‘Human rights defenders have an important and legitimate role to play in identifying, preventing, mitigating and ensuring accountability for the adverse human rights impacts of business,’ Mr Ineichen said.

ISHR also welcomes the UK’s recognition that human rights defenders are often subject to attacks, intimidation and reprisals in connection with their work to expose and ensure accountability for corporate human rights violations.

ISHR has recently reported on allegations of harassment and attacks against human rights defenders working on corporate accountability in Russia and Sri Lanka. Next week, the UN Human Rights Council will consider a report in relation to Brazil which alleges that the second largest mining company in the country has been involved in the surveillance and infiltration of various human rights organisations. It will also consider a case in relation to the killing of a human rights defender in Thailand, allegedly in connection with his work to expose corporate environmental abuses.

‘States have a legal obligation to support and enable human rights defenders to exercise their fundamental rights and freedoms, including the rights to freedom of expression and association, to form and join trade unions, and to peaceful protest. Corporations have a correlate obligation not to interfere with the exercise of such rights and freedoms. We warmly welcome the UK’s leadership in both of these respects,’ Mr Ineichen said.

 

Contact: Michael Ineichen, Director of UN Human Rights Council Advocacy, on + 41 78 827 77 86 or m.ineichen@ishr.ch.

Category:

Topic
  • Corporate accountability
  • Human rights defenders
Country
  • Brazil
  • Russia
  • Sri Lanka
  • Thailand
  • United Kingdom