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More action needed to tackle business-related abuse of indigenous people’s rights

More action needed to tackle business-related abuse of indigenous people’s rights

Pavel Sulyandziga. Photo from en.wikipedia.org

Pavel Sulyandziga. Photo from en.wikipedia.org

NEW YORK / GENEVA (29 October 2013) – States and businesses need to do more to tackle and prevent the violation of indigenous peoples’ human rights as a result of business-related activities, a United Nations independent expert body has said.

“Indigenous peoples are among the groups most severely affected by the extractive, agro-industrial and energy sectors,” said Pavel Sulyandziga, Chair of the UN Working Group on the issue of human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises.

Mr. Sulyandziga presented yesterday the UN Working Group’s first thematic report*, which explores the challenges faced in addressing the adverse effects of business activities on indigenous peoples’ rights, to the UN General Assembly in New York.

“Negative effects range from indigenous peoples’ right to maintain their chosen traditional way of life, with their distinct cultural identity, to discrimination in employment and in accessing goods and services,” the expert noted.

“There are challenges involving land use and ownership, and also displacement through forced or economic resettlement. Such disruption often leads to serious abuses of civil and political rights, with human rights defenders in particular put at risk,” Mr. Sulyandziga said. “Indigenous peoples are also often excluded from agreements and decision-making processes that irrevocably affect their lives.”

The Working Group’s report highlights how the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights can clarify the roles and responsibilities of States, business enterprises and indigenous peoples in addressing these problems.

“We call on States and business enterprises to increase their efforts to implement the Guiding Principles. This includes the State’s duty to protect indigenous peoples against business-related human rights abuses and corporate responsibility to respect human rights, and where abuses have occurred, to ensure people can have effective remedy,” said Mr. Sulyandziga.

The expert urged interested parties to register for the second annual Forum on Business and Human Rights in Geneva on 2-4 December 2013.

“It will be an opportunity to discuss challenges in implementing the Guiding Principles, in particular sectors, in operational environments and in relation to specific rights and groups, including indigenous peoples. It will also be a chance to identify good practices and opportunities for dialogue and cooperation toward solutions,” Mr. Sulyandziga said.

(*) Read the report of the Working Group to the General Assembly: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Business/Pages/Reports.aspx


The Working Group was established by the United Nations Human Rights Council in June 2011. The five members are Mr. Michael Addo, Ms. Alexandra Guáqueta, Ms. Margaret Jungk, Mr. Puvan Selvanathan and Mr. Pavel Sulyandziga (current Chairperson-Rapporteur). The Working Group is independent from any government or organization. It reports to the Human Rights Council and to the UN General Assembly.
Learn more, visit: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Business/Pages/WGHRandtransnationalcorporationsandotherbusiness.aspx

The UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Business/Pages/Tools.aspx

Learn more about and register for the 2013 Forum on Business and Human Rights: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Business/Forum/Pages/2013ForumonBusinessandHumanRights.aspx

For additional information and media requests, please contact
In New York: Nenad Vasic (+1 212 963 5998 / vasic@un.org)
In Geneva: Estelle Askew-Renaut (+41 22 928 9292 / easkew-renaut@ohchr.org) or write to wg-business@ohchr.org

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts:
Xabier Celaya, UN Human Rights – Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9383 / xcelaya@ohchr.org)

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Watch “20 years of human rights – the road ahead”: http://youtu.be/yW7s-Q8S14E


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