General Debate Under Item 5: Report of the Forum on Business and Human Rights
Thank you, Mr. President.
International-Lawyers.org and Geneva International Centre for Justice note the report of the Forum on Business and Human Rights and its concern with the respect of human rights by State-owned and supported enterprises.
We especially draw the Council’s attention specifically to the practices of Canadian-owned mining companies. As 57 percent of all mining companies in the world are domiciled in Canada, there exists a unique opportunity for the country to be a global leader in spearheading respect for human rights within extractive industries. Regrettably, Canada still lags behind.
A recent report by the Justice and Corporate Accountability Project documents “30 targeted deaths and 709 cases of ‘criminalization, during the period from 2000 to 2015, associated with the operations of 28 Canadian companies in Latin America.” Recently, the Supreme Court of Canada cleared the way for a Guatemalan group to proceed against Canadian-owned Tahoe Resources, with a case seeking redress for abuses carried out at the company’s Guatemalan mine.
The UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights observed after its recent ten-day fact-finding mission to Canada that a gap still remains between the human rights values Canada espouses and its will to provide effective remedies for victims of human rights violations, especially where they pertain to the business activities of Canadian companies overseas. This complex situation is especially exacerbated by the reality that government oversight in the countries in which the companies operate is often limited.
Our organisations join the Canadian civil society in calling on the government of Canada to establish an institution with a mandate to investigate human rights violations perpetrated by Canadian companies involved in the extractive industries anywhere in the world.