HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS UNITE IN GENEVA TO SAY ENOUGH!

On Tuesday 26 November Human Rights Defenders from more than ten countries are launching a new global initiative to call for the eradication of killing and violence from international supply chains. It’s time for a zero tolerance approach to violence and intimidation linked to business and global finance.

Indigneous peoples, Afrodescendant and other customary landowners, activists and communities defending their rights and the environment are facing escalating threats worldwide. Three Human Rights Defenders are murdered every week[1].  Many of them are targeted for resisting land grabs and invasion by agribusiness and the extractive industries.

Event Details

Join us for the launch of the Zero Tolerance Initiative [1] in Geneva. During the event, Human Rights Defenders will tell their own stories of violence, threats, and resistance. They will reflect on what can be done to better prevent harms before they happen and protect human rights defenders, and how the Zero Tolerance Initiative can help.

At least half the time will be given over to interviews and questions from the floor.

This event takes place alongside the 2019 UN Forum on Business and Human Rights, taking place 25 – 27 November in Geneva.

  • Date: Tuesday 26th November

  • Time: 19:00 (event will last 1.5 hours)

  • Address: Room Salle Zazi Sadou, Maison International des Associations, Rue des Savoises 15, 1205 Genève

  • This event will be livestreamed for those who cannot attend in person.

Speakers available for interview in Geneva

 

Speakers will be available for interview from 22 to 26 November by appointment. Translation between French, Spanish or English may be available if needed.

 

Human Rights Defenders (bios below) 

  • Jacqueline (Jill) Cariño, Philippines  (Issue: Threats, harassment and intimidation against Western Uma community after resisting a geothermal power project. Language: English) Read their bio

  • Mali Ole Kaunga, Kenya (Issue: indigenous communities affected by the largest wind farm project in Africa. Language: English) Read their bio

  • Monica Kristiani Ndoen, Indonesia (Issue: increasing prevalence of criminalisation and extrajudicial killings among indigenous environmental defenders, including those impacted by pulp & paper plantations and cattle ranching. Language: English) Read their bio

  • Miguel Hardy Guimaraes Vasquez, Peru (Issue: violent attacks, criminalisation and intimidation against Santa Clara de Uchunya community members, who are trying to reclaim their land taken by land traffickers and a palm oil company. Language: Spanish) Read their bio

  • Ivan Danilo Rueda Rodriguez, Colombia (Issue: afro-descendant, indigenous and smallholder farmers in Colombia which are resisting land grabbing and other human rights abuses related to palm oil, plantain and banana monocrops,mining interest over sacred places and oil exploitation. Language: Spanish) Read their bio

  • Indianara Ramires Machado, Brazil (Issue: From the Guarani-Kaiowá indigenous peoples of Dourados in Mato Grosso do Sul, Indianara is in Geneva especially to talk about the impact on children and young people born in territories "devastated" by agribusiness and mining. Language: Portuguese, Spanish) Read their bio

 

Zero Tolerance Initiative spokespeople

The Zero Tolerance Initiative is a collaboration between grassroots human rights and indigenous peoples’ rights defenders, and some of their international NGO allies including Forest Peoples Programme and IWGIA. The following NGO representatives are available to talk about the Initiative and the Zero Tolerance Pledge, an instrument directed specifically at investors and companies.

  • Helen Tugendhat, Forest Peoples Programme (Operations Lead and Policy Advisor, Legal and Human Rights and Responsible Finance)

Media contact

To arrange interviews outside the launch event, contact: Lindsay Duffield: m: +44 7713874724 e: Lindsay.duffield@gmail.com

Speaker biographies

Ms. Jill Cariño, is an indigenous Ibaloi from Baguio, the Philippines. She is an Executive Council Member of Asia Indigenous Peoples' Pact (AIPP) and Executive Director of the Philippine Task Force for Indigenous Peoples’ Rights. She is a staunch defender of indigenous people rights particularly those who suffer situations of displacement, eviction and forced migration within and across borders. In Geneva, she will be discussing the community of Western Uma which is 1 of 11 ancesteral domains covered by the geothermal power project of Chevron in Northern Philippines. After resisting the project, the Armed Forces of the Philippines have subjected them to threats, harassment and intimidation.

Mr Mali Ole Kaunga (IMPACT) will be in Geneva discussing the communities impacted by the Lake Turkana wind farm in Northern Kenya which is the largest wind-power project in Africa and the biggest private investment in Kenyan history. The indigenous communities of El Molo, Rendille, Turkana and the Samburu have lost around 150,000 ha to the project after minimal and superficial consultations. As well as disregarding their internationally held rights, the environmental and social impacts of the new project and influx of workers, such as increasing demand for wood for fuel depleting resources, is significant and concerning.

Ms Indianara Ramires Machado is from the Guarani-Kaiowá indigenous peoples of Dourados in Mato Grosso do Sul. In Geneva she will be talking especially about the impact on children and young people born in territories "devastated" by mining, agribusiness and mining. "I affirm that the lack of applicability of free, prior and informed consultations brings great harm to our population, in our case, the abusive use of pesticides applied in the region, the contamination of springs and damming of rivers that pass within the reserves and indigenous villages, the leasing of indigenous lands by non-Indians left them unable to survive". Indianara graduated in nursing from the State University of Mato Grosso do Sul, since 12 years participates in the movement of indigenous youth of Mato Grosso do Sul. She is vice president of AJI - Young Indigenous Youth Action Association of Dourados, currently a master student at the University of São Paulo School of Medicine.

Ms Monica Kristiani Ndoen works for Indigenous Peoples Alliance of the Archipelago (AMAN) in Indonesia. Her role includes Policy development and Human Rights Protection for Indigenous Peoples across Indonesia where she has seen the increasing prevalence of intimidation, criminalisation, harassment and extrajudicial killings of indigenous defenders in Indonesia. In Geneva she will be speaking specially on cases about dam construction, oil palm plantation, ethnocide, pulp and paper plantation and cattle farming involving IPs as the victims.

Mr. Miguel Hardy Guimaraes Vasquez is a leader from the Shipibo-Konibo people in the Peruvian Amazon and President of the Federation of Native Communities of Ucayali. Guimaraes has supported the community Santa Clara de Uchunya in their struggle to reclaim their territory following the destruction of over 7,000 hectares of their forests by a palm oil company. The palm oil company and land traffickers have sought to dispossess the community of their lands by capitalising on the State’s failure to legally recognise the community’s ancestral territory. These tactics have included threats, intimidation, criminalisation and violent attacks by land traffickers.

Mr. Ivan Danilo Rueda Rodriguez is a humans rights defender and member of the Comisión Interclesial de Justicia y Paz (Inter-ecclesiastical Commission for Justice and Peace) an organisation that denounce the human rights abuses committed by armed forces and paramilitary groups in areas affected by armed conflict in Colombia. He is in Geneva to discuss the struggle by afro-descendant, indigenous and smallholders farmers in Colombia for their land and environmental rights. The communities have been peacefully protesting, denouncing land grabbing and other human rights abuses related to palm oil, plantain and banana monocrops in Bajo Atrato and Meta; mining interest over sacred places (as the Cerro cara del Perro in Bajo Atrato region); and oil exploitation in Putumayo department. For his part in these struggles Danilo has been criminalised and been the target of attacks. He has also received information that there is a plan to assassinate him.

 

Background

Next week, representatives of indigenous peoples, environmental and human rights defenders converge in Geneva to take part in the United Nations Forum on Business and Human Rights. They will use this opportunity to launch  the Zero Tolerance Initiative, demanding governments, businesses and investors act to kick violence out of every stage of their supply chains.

Last year as many as 321 human rights defenders were murdered, and more than 75 per cent of them were defending indigenous peoples’ and communities’ land and environmental rights. Many thousands more were subjected to threats, attacks, intimidation and criminalisation. [2]

It is 21 years since the UN Human Rights Defenders Declaration was created but violence, murder, and criminalisation of people who defend their communities and lands is on the increase[3]. This is especially true among those working on business-related human rights issues, and the agricultural sector and extractive industries are among the sectors most tainted by violence[4].

Join us at the Zero Tolerance Initiative launch, where Human Rights Defenders will tell their own stories of violence, threats and resistance. They will reflect on what can be done to protect Human Rights Defenders, and how the Zero Tolerance Initiative can help.

About the Zero Tolerance Initiative

The Zero Tolerance Initiative is launched  by Human Rights Defenders, indigenous organisations and communities with first-hand experience of the kind of violence, intimidation and criminalisation that plagues so many communities who strive to defend their lands and environment . It builds on work already done to clean up supply chains, but recognises that many responses so far have failed to tackle the root causes and key drivers of attacks.

The Initiative will build on the following principles for stripping violence out of supply chains:

  • States must respect indigenous peoples’ land rights  and collective human rights

  • Land defenders must be respected and heard

  • Rights must be respected throughout the supply chain

  • Mandatory human rights due diligence for companies and investors can prevent harm.

 

>> Read the Zero Tolerance Declaration from human rights defenders (available from 25 November[2] [3] )

About the Zero Tolerance Pledge

It is clear that effective State and international regulation is needed to strip violence out of all supply chains, but businesses and investors can and should act to make sure their own business practices are free of violence and murder. The Zero Tolerance Pledge[4]  lays out a series of steps towards this goal, to which businesses can commit.

By supporting  the Pledge, and implementing a Zero Tolerance approach, businesses and investors commit to eradicating violence in their supply chains, and monitoring and reporting progress towards that aim.

>> Read the Pledge (available from 25 November) [5] 

Notes

[1] According to research by Global Witness, looking at incidents in 2018. https://www.globalwitness.org/en-gb/campaigns/environmental-activists/enemies-state/

[2] Forthcoming

[3] Both Global Witness and Frontline Defenders reported an increase in attacks to defenders working on business-related human rights issues between 2017-2018.Front Line Defenders, 2019. Front Line Defenders Global Analysis 2018. Available at https://bit.ly/36HVhuA ; Global Witness, 2019. Enemies of the state? Available at: https://bit.ly/33qXatf

[4] A 2019 corporate human rights benchmark assessing how well companies from various high-risk sectors are implementing the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (designed to help States and companies prevent, address and remedy human rights abuses committed in business operations), found that assessed companies in agricultural products sector score an average implementation score of just 24.2%, while it’s 29% for extractives.

Con apoyo financiero de:

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