GENEVA (9 September 2016) – Concluding a ten-day official visit to the country*, the United Nations Working Group on business and human rights urged the Mexican authorities and the business sector to learn past mistakes and ensure adequate consultation with individuals and communities affected by development projects and business operations.
“In a multicultural country like Mexico, this dialogue needs to including, in particular, indigenous people,” said Pavel Sulyandziga, who currently heads the Working Group. ”And these consultations should take place at the earliest stage of any development project and should be free, informed and in full compliance with international standards,” he noted, stressing that the principle of due diligence is at the core of the UN Guiding Principles of Business and Human Rights.
“Prevention of harm or negative impact to people, especially the most vulnerable, should not be seen as a burden but as an opportunity to strengthen competitiveness and sustainable development,” said Dante Pesce, another member of the Working Group delegation.
The experts also stressed that human rights defenders and journalists must be better protected. “In the face of attacks and intimidation against people who speak up for their rights or for the rights of others, Government officials at the highest level and business CEOs must take a clear stance that such behaviour is simply unacceptable and will not be tolerated,” said Mr. Sulyandziga.
The experts also noted that the ongoing process of developing a National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights offers an opportunity to translate political commitments into action.
“We are encouraged to see that there is a commitment on the part of the Government to move the business and human rights agenda forward,” said Mr. Pesce. “This will require further effort to change practices and mind-sets and to more fully entrench a culture of transparency, integrity, and democratic values in the country. The Government must lead by example.”
The Working Group had substantive discussions with more than 100 Government representatives, visited four states, and heard testimony from around 200 representatives of civil society organisations, communities, indigenous peoples, as well as businesses, both private and state-owned enterprises.
The Working Group’s final report, including findings and key recommendations, will be presented to the UN Human Rights Council in June 2017.
(*) Check the Working Group’s full end-of-mission statement: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=20466&LangID=E
The Working Group on human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises was established by the UN Human Rights Council in June 2011. Its current members are: Mr. Michael Addo (current vice chair), Mr. Surya Deva, Mr. Dante Pesce, Mr. Pavel Sulyandziga (current Chairperson), and Ms. Anita Ramasastry. Learn more, log on to: www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Business/Pages/WGHRandtransnationalcorporationsandotherbusiness.aspx
The Working Groups are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent human rights monitoring mechanisms. The Working Groups report to the Human Rights Council and to the UN General Assembly. Special Procedures mandate-holders are independent human rights experts appointed by the Human Rights Council to address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. The experts are not UN staff and are independent from any government or organization. They serve in their individual capacity and do not receive a salary for their work.
UN Human Rights, country page – Mexico: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Countries/LACRegion/Pages/MXIndex.aspx
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