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First visit to Azerbaijan by UN expert group on business and human rights

GENEVA (14 August 2014) – A United Nations group of independent experts will undertake its first official visit to Azerbaijan from 18 to 27 August 2014 to examine the impact of business activities on human rights in the country.

“As an oil-rich nation which has experienced rapid economic growth and an increased role of private companies in the economy, Azerbaijan faces specific challenges and opportunities in preventing and protecting against business-related human rights abuses,” said Puvan Selvanathan, one of the members of the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights who will travel to Azerbaijan.

The experts will look at current initiatives, opportunities and challenges to implement the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights* in Azerbaijan.

The principles, unanimously endorsed by the UN Human Rights Council in 2011, offers clarity and guidance for authorities and companies to prevent and address adverse impacts of business activities on human rights. They re-affirm States’ existing obligations to protect against human rights abuse by third parties, including businesses. They also clarify the corporate responsibility to respect human rights, and the need to ensure that victims have access to effective remedy.

“Our visit will be an opportunity for all stakeholders to learn about efforts made to ensure that business activities and human rights work together,” said Pavel Sulyandziga, the other Working Group’s member taking part in the visit.

“As well as meeting with the government authorities and a number of companies, we will speak to civil society organizations, trade unions and other stakeholders, and we look forward to learning for their experience,” he added.

The experts visit the country at the invitation of the Government of the Republic of Azerbaijan. They will carry out field visits including to Azerbaijan’s second largest city, Ganja.

They will hold a press conference to share with the media preliminary observations from their visit at 13:30 on Wednesday 27 August 2014 at UN House, UN 50th Anniversary Street 3, Baku 2001, Azerbaijan.

Findings from the country visit and recommendations will be included in an official report to be presented to the Human Rights Council in June 2015.

(*) Read the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Business/Pages/Tools.aspx

The Working Group on the issue of human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises was established by the UN Human Rights Council in June 2011. The five members are Mr. Michael Addo (Ghana), Ms. Alexandra Guáqueta (Colombia), Ms. Margaret Jungk (USA), Mr. Puvan Selvanathan (Malaysia) and Mr. Pavel Sulyandziga (Russian Federation).

The Working Group is independent from any government or organization. Its members serve in their personal capacities. They are not UN staff members and do not receive a salary for their work. The Working Group 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

UN Human Rights, country page – Azerbaijan: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/countries/ENACARegion/Pages/AZIndex.aspx

For more information and press inquiries, please contact:
Mr. Kamran Baghirov (Baku): + 994 12 497 08 69 / kamran.baghirov@ohchr.un-az.org
Mr. Ulrik Halsteen: +41 79 444 43 55 (mobile number during visit) /
+41 22 917 93 23 (before and after the visit) / wg-business@ohchr.org
Mr. Peter Hall: +41 22 917 96 57 (before and after the visit) / wg-business@ohchr.org

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

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Check the Universal Human Rights Index: http://uhri.ohchr.org/en