Business and Human Rights: Indigenous Peoples’ Experiences with Access to Remedy

This book represents an important step towards addressing the issues and challenges which have been observed by the Working Group (UN Working Group on the issue of human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises) in relation to access to remedy at this nexus between the role of the State, the responsibility of corporations and the situation to remedy under the Working Group’s mandate, and the fundamental importance to indigenous peoples of redress for corporate related impacts on their rights.

A solid and effective access to remedy pillar is of fundamental importance to the success of the Guiding Principles. Without it the platform for a rights respecting engagement between corporate actors and rights-holders will simply not exist. As noted by the Special Representative to the Secretary General at the outset of his mandate, indigenous peoples are among the groups facing the greatest barriers to effective remedy and are also among those most affected by corporate activities, in particular by those of the extractive industries. The extent to which access to remedy is realized in the context of indigenous peoples’ rights is therefore a key litmus test for the effectiveness of the Guiding Principles and for the success of the Working Group in promoting their dissemination and implementation.

If the recommendations and lessons which this book offers are given the necessary attention by States and corporations, we will have moved further along the path of implementing the UN Guiding Principles and towards the goal of rights-based engagements with indigenous peoples. The book is particularly timely in light of the increased focus which the resolution outlining the Working Group’s mandate directs to addressing barriers to access to remedy. The 2014 Human Rights Council resolution refers to the need for “relevant legal frameworks” for more effective avenues of remedy for affected communities, and encourages all actors to engage with the Working Group to develop guidance with regard to access to both judicial and non-judicial remedy.

This book is the product of a collaboration of three organizations – Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP), Almáciga, and the International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs (IWGIA) – all of which work closely and collaborate with indigenous peoples in Asia, Africa and Latin America. The book addresses cases from each of these continents, examining the experiences of indigenous peoples with access to remedy when their human rights are affected by corporate activities. By drawing from these experiences it seeks to inform the actions of corporate and State actors in relation their business and human rights obligation to ensure that indigenous peoples have access to effective remedy.

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