Homes destroyed, rivers polluted, forests cut down. Around the world, people’s human rights are being trampled on by corporations in the pursuit of profit.
The rush for natural resources by big business has resulted in misery for many communities around the world. Those that stand up to defend their communities from corporate exploitation often face violence for doing so.
This is why urgent action is needed to make businesses respect human rights in their operations overseas. Next week marks a crucial point for international action on corporate accountability. Nation states will discuss the latest draft of this agreement (Treaty) at the United Nations in Geneva next week.
A global set of rules for business could be a game changer, like the convention on Torture and other international agreements. This is why Trócaire activists have written to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Simon Coveney. They are urging Ireland to champion a new agreement to plug the gaps in international law which are allowing some big businesses to violate human rights.
Trócaire activists ask Ireland to Speak Up
Over the past eighteen months, the activists have engaged in Trócaire’s Business and Human Rights campaign. Many have been inspired to act after meeting Trócaire partners and human rights defenders.
Deirdre Davis from Co. Meath said, “A few months ago, I had the privilege of meeting Bertha Cáceres, a young indigenous woman and human rights activist from Honduras. Bertha’s mother was shot dead because she dared to stand up to a powerful big business who sought to construct a hydro-electric dam which would divert the water supply away from local communities.”
A small number of activists also observed the Treaty negotiations at the UN in Geneva last October. Gertrude Cotter from Cork said, “In Geneva, we met human rights defenders who inspired us all. It is shocking to hear about the way defenders are treated by corporations and states to allow businesses to increase profits. It makes a difference when we hear about individual stories. It makes us see our common humanity and imagine ourselves in such circumstances.”