Three human rights activists from indigenous communities in Guatemala and Colombia have been presenting cases highlighting human rights violations by multinational corporations in their countries, including instances of land grabbing, at the Second United Nations Annual Forum on Business and Human Rights.
The group has been representing the Commission of the Churches on International Affairs (CCIA) of the World Council of Churches (WCC) at the forum which took place from 2 to 4 December 2013 in Geneva, Switzerland.
Pablo Ceto and Miguel de Leon, who come from Guatemala’s Ixil ethnic communities, together with a Colombian human rights lawyer German Ospina, will bring evidence of human rights violations due to hydroelectric plants operated by the Italian multinational company Enel.
According to various reports, the government of Guatemala, through their inability to continue land seizure in Ixil indigenous communities have hampered the ownership of indigenous people towards their ancestral land.
Ospina represents three thousand Afro-Colombians living in the Anchicayan River located in Valle del Cauca in Colombia. Through his work cases of environmental contamination in this area and destruction of natural resources due to hydroelectric power plants, which have affected the lives of thousands of Afro-Colombian people, are being highlighted.
The forum is part of a process seeking greater clarity about the roles and responsibilities of governments and business with regard to protection and respect for human rights. This also includes holding corporate actors accountable for the impact of their activities on human right situations.
Speaking on the participation of the delegation at the forum, Dr Mathews George Chunakara, director of the CCIA said, “The opportunity for the CCIA delegates from Guatemala and Colombia to enter into dialogue with other participants at the UN forum will help signify the voices of indigenous peoples and their struggle for human rights, especially when they are driven out from their ancestral lands.”
The forum has also been addressing issues related to human rights defenders and the role of states and business, overcoming barriers to effective judicial remedies, implementation of the UN Guiding Principles in agribusiness and integrating human rights in international investment policies and contracts.
* WCC: http://www.oikoumene.org