Report examines human rights (non)observance by Chinese firms

14 October 2018

As part of its regular cycle of appraisals of human rights observance, the UN's Human Rights Council will in November review China's performance as an international actor.

The provision for civil society to submit reports has been taken up by a 'collective' of Latin American NGOs, reporting on 18 projects: eleven in Ecuador, four in Peru, and one each in Argentina, Bolivia and Brazil. All are in the extractives or hydroelectric sectors. All four cases in Peru are in mining: Toromocho, Marcona, Las Bambas and Rio Blanco.

The empirical body of the report is brief; violations of good practice are considered in just seven pages. These relate to prior consultation; the right to land and an adequate living; the right to life, freedom and personal security; the right to freedom of association; the right to live in a healthy environment; and labour rights.

The bulk of the empirical evidence comes from the eleven Ecuadorian cases. The Peruvian material contributes on the right to a healthy environment and on the security issues raised by the use of the police in a private capacity at Las Bambas, Toromocho and Rio Blanco. The documentation given is mostly through footnoted references to the groups' own extensive work on the topic.

The report concludes (p20) that violations of human rights "are not isolated cases but demonstrate a recurring pattern of behaviour characterised by a lack of respect for fundamental rights and for internationally-recognised economic, social and cultural rights, a failure to observe international standards and a failure to be accountable." Specifically, the report sees failures in monitoring and due diligence, and a failure of the state to enforce its extra-territorial obligations.

The report calls on China to ratify ILO 169 and take seriously the implementation of both consulta previa and environmental consultations. It calls for a commitment to abandon projects in areas designated as protected for indigenous populations. It calls on China to undertake a “comprehensive and participatory” review of all Chinese-funded projects in these five countries to determine whether they adhere to international human rights standards. It asks for the immediate suspension of projects that fall short of such standards.

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    The Peru Support Group exists to promote social inclusion, sustainable development and the observance of human rights in Peru. To that end the PSG highlights shortcomings in observance of established norms, whether international or local in nature, in its research, advocacy and publications. In so doing, it underscores the relationships that exist within the political system, how institutions work, and the effectiveness of policies that aim to reduce poverty and inequality within the context of sustainable development.

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