This post was contributed by Humberto Cantú Rivera, Associate Researcher and Ph.D. candidate at Université Panthéon-Assas Paris II.
Much discussion has taken place about the development of a business and human rights agenda in different settings; most notably, an important focus has been on the development of National Action Plans (NAPs) by European States, as well as on the adoption of a business and human rights perspective within the wider EU corporate social responsibility agenda. Some focus has been on supply chains of different industries in Asia and Africa, particularly on the garment sector in the first case and on conflict-minerals in the second case.
Generally, the work and role of the UN Working Group on human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises in supporting the implementation of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs) has been on the spotlight.
However, the case of Latin American States and the different human rights challenges they face in the context of business activity has been relatively absent from these discussions. Several developments that have taken –and are taking– place in 2015 tend to suggest that the topic will enter the agenda of the Organization of American States (OAS) agenda in a more permanent and clear manner.
At the institutional level
In January 2015, the Organization of American States held a meeting to discuss the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights in Business, having as its main objectives to foster dialogue among Member States on implementing the Guiding Principles at the domestic level and to share best practices and experiences in this regard, with the participation of OAS Member States, civil society, academia, international organizations and business.
This meeting, the first to discuss the implementation of the UN Guiding Principles in the Americas, saw several OAS Member States explain their different policies and domestic legal frameworks to support and promote corporate social responsibility practices broadly; however, few examples actually focused on the implementation of the UN Guiding Principles, with the exceptions of Chile and Colombia.