Thursday 31 march 2022
Every five years, the UN Human Rights Council assesses the human rights situation in a country. This year, the Netherlands will be assessed. IUCN NL, Milieudefensie and Stand Up For Your Rights submitted a joint report to draw attention to the human rights violations taking place in the value chain of Dutch businesses. We are asking for recommendations that will require Dutch businesses to investigate potential human rights violations and damage to nature in their (international) value chain.
Header photo: Fishermen in Waza National Park, Cameroon (c) Hans de Iongh
This year, the Netherlands is part of the UN’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR), in which the Dutch government and stakeholders have the opportunity to report to the UN Human Rights Council on the state of human rights in the Netherlands. IUCN NL, together with Milieudefensie and Stand Up For Your Rights, submitted a report that focuses on human rights violations and the infliction of damage to nature in the Global South that can be linked to the business activities of Dutch companies.
Various business sectors involved in violations
Uit diVarious reports cited in the report unfortunately show that Dutch companies from different sectors such as oil and gas, the financial sector and also dredging companies can be (in)directly linked to human rights violations in the Global South. Even the export credit agency, of which the Dutch State is the sole shareholder, supports projects in which human rights violations have been reported.
Clean, safe and healthy environment is a human right
Antoinette Sprenger, Senior Expert Environmental Justice at IUCN NL: ‘The UPR offers an excellent opportunity to draw international attention to the (in)direct links between Dutch companies and human rights violations and damage to nature in the Global South. Nature is also relevant here, as it provides clean drinking water, food and our general wellbeing.’
Obligation for Dutch companies
The report calls for recommendations by the UN Human Rights Council that would oblige Dutch companies, among others, to investigate potential human rights violations and damage to nature in their (international) value chain, prevent or mitigate them or cease their business activities. The Dutch State should prevent its export credit agency from supporting companies that do not comply with the UN Guiding Principles or can be linked to human rights violations in the Global South.
The report is part of the international work that IUCN NL does as part of the Green Livelihood Alliance programme, which is aimed at preventing deforestation.
‘Deforestation also leads to human rights violations,’ says Sprenger, ‘not only directly but also indirectly since deforestation causes climate change. The recently published IPCC report once again shows this.’
The report, together with all other reports submitted by various parties, such as the Dutch State, the National Human Rights Institute and certain UN bodies, will be discussed in the UN Human Rights Council, after which Member States can make recommendations to the Dutch State based on these documents. These recommendations are generally for the most part accepted and implemented by the Dutch State.
‘We hope that our recommendations will be adopted. Among those recommendations is, for example, the obligation for Dutch businesses to investigate in their (international) value chain potential human rights violations and the infliction of damage to nature, which they must prevent or mitigate or cease their business activities,’ says Sprenger.
The UPR for the Netherlands will be discussed in Geneva in November.