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Tuesday, November 27 • 6:15pm - 7:45pm
Human Rights and Business Award – Human rights defenders in the Global South

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Organized by the Human Rights and Business Award Foundation

Short description of the session: 
At this session the first annual Human Rights and Business Award will be presented to an NGO, “for outstanding work by human rights defenders in the Global South or former Soviet Union addressing the human rights impacts of business”.  The award will be accompanied by a grant of US$50,000.  This session will not be ceremonial – instead, it will be an interactive learning and discussion opportunity, linking the particular experiences of the award recipient and the lessons learned through those experiences to the Forum’s priority issues including human rights due diligence, sector-focused challenges, and the UN Guiding Principles.

Session objectives: 
  • Identification of human rights abuses that need to be addressed by civil society, business and governments – and steps that need to be taken to avoid recurrence of those abuses
  • Identification of good practices by human rights defenders, business and governments
  • Identification of “due diligence” good practice and opportunities
  • Identification of opportunities for increased constructive direct engagement between companies and NGOs and between governments and NGOs
  • Identification of opportunities for more effective implementation of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights

Key discussion questions 
  • What have been your organization’s greatest challenges, and greatest successes, in addressing the human rights impacts of business in your country?  What have you learned from the experience that could be useful to other NGOs, and to businesses and governments?
  • A central theme of this UN Forum is human rights due diligence by companies.  What practical advice would you give to an international company coming into your country and wanting to respect human rights, implement the UN Guiding Principles and assess the risks?
  • Do you have any practical suggestions for increasing constructive direct engagement between companies and NGOs in your country?
  • Your NGO has been addressing specific human rights impacts by business.  When you step back and look at the broader landscape in your country, what steps can civil society, companies and government take in the future to promote good human rights practices by business?

Discussants who will help activate the broader discussion with brief contributions include:
  • Justiça nos Trilhos has just been named the recipient of the first annual Human Rights and Business Award, which will be presented at this session.
    Justiça nos Trilhos is a human rights NGO working with more than 100 communities in rural regions of Brazil to address widespread abuses by mining companies, and to defend the rights of local people including indigenous communities. The abuses include damage to health and livelihoods, displacement of communities, violence, and decimation of the cultures and lives of indigenous peoples. The human rights defenders of Justiça nos Trilhos, and the local communities they work with, have suffered persecution, surveillance and retaliatory lawsuits.
  • Lea Rankinen of S Group, a Finnish network of companies operating in the retail and service sectors. When human rights defender Andy Hall documented forced labor by one of S Group’s suppliers in Thailand, and when that supplier filed a court case against Andy Hall, S Group first tried to convince their supplier company to have an open dialogue with stakeholders and to cooperate with external auditors, and when the supplier refused S Group stopped working with them.  But S Group went further – it considered what was the necessary level of due diligence to implement the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, then decided to travel to Thailand to testify in support of human rights defender Andy Hall, and after he was convicted, raised his case at the European Parliament and at the United Nations.  Lea said: “Human rights defenders are the ones doing this work on the ground level...if they can’t raise questions, then how can anyone in the society?”  For further information, see “In-depth interview with Lea Rankinen of S Group: ‘If suppliers think they can sue human rights defenders who will audit or investigate them, this will jeopardize our responsible sourcing’", Business & Human Rights Resource Centre, Jan 2017.
  • Anita Ramasastry, Member of the United Nations Working Group on Business and Human Rights, will highlight the Working Group’s new guidance document on human rights defenders being launched soon: guidance for governments and business on action to safeguard and support human rights defenders in line with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.

Moderator/ Introductory Remark...
avatar for Alexandra Montgomery

Alexandra Montgomery

Member of the Advisory Network, Human Rights and Business Award Foundation
Alexandra is Program Director for Brazil, Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL)Alexandra holds an LL.M. Degree specializing in Human Rights from American University - Washington College of Law and has worked for the past 14 years in many civil society organizations in Brazil... Read More →
avatar for Valeria Scorza

Valeria Scorza

Vice Chair. Program Director of Fundación Avina, Human Rights and Business Award Foundation
Valeria holds a degree in political science and public administration from Universidad Iberoamericana (Mexico) and a master’s degree in international relations with a concentration in human rights from Columbia University. She has worked at international human rights organizations... Read More →

avatar for Christopher Avery

Christopher Avery

Chair of the foundation's board, Human Rights and Business Award Foundation
Chris was Founding Director (2002-2013) of Business & Human Rights Resource Centre, and before that worked at the International Secretariat of Amnesty International as Legal Adviser and Deputy Head of the Research Department. He will co-moderate a Forum session (27 Nov, 18:15-19:45... Read More →
avatar for Danilo Chammas

Danilo Chammas

Lawyer, Justiça nos Trilhos
Danilo Chammas is a lawyer and human rights defender who lives in Maranhão, a state of dense Amazon rainforest in northeastern Brazil. He coordinates the legal team of Justiça nos Trilhos (Justice on the Rails), which works to defend the human rights of those impacted by mining... Read More →
avatar for Anita Ramasastry

Anita Ramasastry

Member, UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights
Ms. Anita Ramasastry is the Roland L. Hjorth Professor of Law and the Director of the Graduate Program in Sustainable International Development at the University of Washington School Of Law. She researches and teaches in the fields of law and development, anti-corruption, international... Read More →
avatar for Lea Rankinen

Lea Rankinen

SVP Sustainability, SOK Corporation

Tuesday November 27, 2018 6:15pm - 7:45pm CET
Room XX