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Human Rights Due Diligence Project - Latin America Consultation Summary

Human Rights Due Diligence Project - Latin America Consultation Summary

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Human Rights Due Diligence Project – Latin America Consultation Hosted by the International Cooperation for Development and

Solidarity (CIDSE) October 5th and 6th, 2012 The International Corporate Accountability Roundtable (“ICAR”) is hosting consultations with local experts in various jurisdictions to gain valuable inputs into the Human Rights Due Diligence Project. The Human Rights Due Diligence Project will formulate legal and policy recommendations to governments to promote due diligence to prevent, remedy and mitigate adverse human rights impacts. On October 5th and 6th, 2012, the International Cooperation for Development and Solidarity (CIDSE) hosted the Project’s Latin America Consultation in Lima, Peru. Partners also included the Due Process of Law Foundation (DPLF) and the Comision Episcopol de Accion Social (CEAS). We extend our thanks to these organizations for the excellent leadership and collaboration in this endeavor. Participants in our Consultation included: Geraldine McDonald, CIDSE; Santiago Fischer, Justice and Peace; Antonio Manganella, Catholic Committee Against Hunger and for Development; Mary Durran, Development & Peace; Carla García Zendejas, Due Process of Law Foundation; Flavia Milano, Global Rights; Victor Ricco, Center for Human Rights and Environment; Walter Arteaga, Centro de Estudios para el Desarrollo Laboral y Agrario; Dora Lucy Arias, José Alvear Restrepo Lawyers' Collective; Sergio Moreno Rubio, Latin American Institute for an Alternative Society and an Alternative Law; Francisco Bustamente, Minga; Andrea Torres Bobadilla, Tierra Digna; Pedro Landa, Centro Hondureño para la Promoción y el Desarrollo Comunitario (CEPHPRODEC); Teresa María Fuentes Maldonado, COPAE; Walter Blake, Episcopal Commission for Social Action; Humberto Ortiz Roca, Episcopal Commission for Social Action; Vanessa Schaeffer, Cooperation; David Velazco, Ecumenical Foundation for Development and Peace; Carlos Monge, Revenue Watch; and Carlos Cordero Sanz, Sustentia . The Consultation was led by Amol Mehra, ICAR; Geraldine McDonald, CIDSE, and the Human Rights Due Diligence Project experts, including Professor Anita Ramasastry and Professor Olivier De Schutter. A short summary of the discussion follows. Distrust in voluntary mechanisms Although participants expressed frustration over a lack of enforcement by governments, participants noted that there should be a push for legally enforceable, rather than voluntary, mechanisms in both home and host states. Failure to conduct due diligence or to make honest disclosures should be answered with sanctions and benefits from States to companies should be conditioned on performance of human rights due diligence. Corporate Social Responsibility as more than just philanthropy In Latin America, many companies think of corporate social responsibility in terms of their investment in the community. For example, a company might invest in sporting programs.

Instead, there must be a shift in focus toward corporate accountability, with emphasis on assessing and addressing human rights and environmental impacts of companies’ operations. This should also include transparency over the potential impacts of these social investment programs. Ensuring that consultation is a dialogue rather than a formality Where governments require companies to consult with affected communities, they must ensure that the consultation process is not merely a formality, but rather an active dialogue. Companies should be required to disclose the results of their engagement with the community. Some participants noted that it would be more effective to require prior informed consent by communities before a company is permitted to operate, rather than a simple requirement for prior consultation. Transparency and access to information Information about companies’ activities must be available and accessible; it must be translated and simple for affected communities to understand. State governments should endeavor to clarify what information cannot be divulged; information that affects the public interest should always be made public. Due Diligence as an ongoing process In addition to requiring a rigorous due diligence process by companies before projects are approved, governments should also require companies to continue conducting human rights due diligence throughout the life of a project. Corruption Participants noted that due diligence mechanisms are generally lacking in their countries. However, where such mechanisms are in place, they are rarely enforced. Access to justice Home states must ensure that victims of corporate human rights abuses have access to judicial remedies. Next steps Participants’ responses will be incorporated in the Human Rights Due Diligence Project report, which will be released in December 2012 in conjunction with the United Nations Annual Forum on Business and Human Rights. For more information regarding the Human Rights Due Diligence Project, contact Amol Mehra, ICAR Coordinator, at amol@accountabilityroundtable.org.

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