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UN rights experts urge respect for groups at risk from transnational business activities

A body of UN independent experts submitted its report [text, PDF] to the General Assembly [official website] on Friday regarding specific groups of individuals whose human rights are put at risk by transnational business activities. The Working Group on the issue of human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises is a group of five independent experts established by the Human Rights Council [official websites] to explore remedies for those affected by international corporate activities, primarily through the three-year implementation of the UN "Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights" framework. In his presentation, Working Group head Puvan Selvanathan urged states and business enterprises to identify sector-specific human rights issues [UN News Centre report] and to take measures to raise awareness, build capacity and implement the Working Principles within each sector:

The Working Group is encouraged by the number of initiatives undertaken to embed the Guiding Principles into global governance frameworks since their adoption, and by dissemination and implementation initiatives led by stakeholders, some of which are outlined below. Notwithstanding, significant challenges and gaps exist towards achieving the effective dissemination and implementation of the Guiding Principles. Addressing these issues requires greater, sustained and scaled-up efforts from all stakeholders for long-lasting change to prevent, reduce and address adverse impacts on human rights linked to business activities.
The group referred to at-risk groups such as children and the elderly, indigenous communities, migrant workers, journalists and human rights defenders, community activists, and minorities, among others.

Last week the UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief presented a report to the General Assembly urging all member states to protect freedom of belief as applied to religious conversion [JURIST report]. Earlier that week Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers Gabriela Knaul [official profile] made her annual presentation to the General Assembly, suggesting a policy of "strengthening the judiciary from within" in which governments develop anti-corruption bodies to ensure that judges act impartially and are free from political influence [JURIST report]. Earlier this month the special rapporteur on human rights in Iran released a report indicating that the government of Iran is torturing human rights activists [JURIST report] and threatening the activists' families with rape or death. Last month Special Rapporteur on the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation Catarina de Albuquerque [official profile] lauded a new California law that creates a right to safe drinking water [JURIST report].

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