Building back better means supporting an economic and social recovery that is fair and just for all, that doesn’t involve exploitation, and puts in strong protections to ensure companies respect human rights.
"The danger is that states, particularly non-democratic or less open societies, would use the opportunity given by the health emergency to crack down on particular minority groups, or individuals or groups that they see as highly problematic."
Fionnuala Ni Aolain, UN special rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms.
As many communities cannot access their fields and forests during the pandemic, there have been reports of increased land grabs and illegal logging and mining activities.
Some countries are taking advantage of the lockdown to violate human rights and crack down on human rights defenders. Many governments will continue do so as they attempt to restart their economies with the potential for human rights and environmental standards to be eroded even further. Land grabs and corporate exploitation will be on the rise.
People standing up to protect their communities are facing additional threats during the pandemic. At least five defenders of the environment have been killed in different Latin American countries since the beginning of the pandemic. These land, indigenous and environmental defenders are protecting the environment and resources for the common good, a vital part of protecting us all from future pandemics and climate change.
We must avoid a race to the bottom and the economic recovery being used as a cover to exploit and harass poor communities. As economies and societies rebuild, we must ensure they are built to respect people and the planet.
What can our governments do?
We are calling on the Irish and UK governments to:
Protect communities by introducing mandatory human rights and environmental due diligence for businesses.
Support a binding global UN Treaty on Business and Human Rights
Ban trade with occupied territories.
Protect fundamental rights for human rights defenders and civil society space