UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights publishes report on indigenous peoples

The report explores the relevance and applicability of the UN Guiding Principles for indigenous peoples affected by business operations and seeks to provide guidance to enterprises, indigenous peoples and governments wishing to safeguard protection of indigenous peoples' rights during the planning and execution of business operations.

The document emphasises the special attention that should be paid to indigenous peoples when it comes to business and human rights. The report unequivocally identifies the ILO convention 169 and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) as the authoritative sources of indigenous peoples' rights by which business enterprises must abide, including the right and principle of Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC). The report particularly calls on governments and enterprises to respect indigenous peoples' customary law and encourages to further explore the use of customary law as a remedy instrument in conflicts involving indigenous peoples and business enterprises. At the same time, it must be noted that the report also shows that the Working Group on Business and Human Rights is still not ready to fully embrace some of the core demands raised by civil society when it comes to the regulation of business activities. The report encourages states to undertake voluntary measures, however, without spelling out an extraterritorial obligation to protect human rights. This voluntary nature of extraterritorial human rights protection is what has been criticised by many human rights experts in the past and which has led to the adoption of the Maastricht Principles on Extraterritorial State Obligations. The report mentions the Maastricht Principles in a footnote, but stops short of endorsing them.

Tags: Global governance

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