Our key takeaway: “Adopting a human rights and environmental due diligence legislation that does not seek to address human rights violations perpetrated against our peoples and communities would exclude countless people from being able to seek justice for the constant violence inflicted upon us by corporate actors worldwide.” These are the words from 21 organisations representing the perspectives of indigenous and tribal peoples, and communities, as they request that EU institutions specifically recognise their internationally recognised human rights in the upcoming EU CSDDD. Some other key proposals include: (1) Take a value chain approach to include all business relationships connected to impacts; (2) Implement robust consultation processes with stakeholders to develop preventive, mitigation, and remediation measures, including meaningful grievance mechanisms; and (3) Ensure business strategies on zero deforestation are in place and recognise adverse impacts on people resulting from deforestation.
21 organisations that represent indigenous and tribal peoples, and communities published an Open Letter to EU Institutions: Uphold our internationally recognised rights in the CSDDD (October 2023):
- Ensure scope of the CSDDD is inclusive: The open letter requests that the CSDDD specifically include companies’ commitments to respect “the right to lands, territories, and resources, as well as the right to self-determination and FPIC” of indigenous peoples, tribal peoples, and communities with customary tenure systems as outlined under international human rights treaties ratified by the EU. The letter also requests that the CSDDD include a requirement that companies commit to respecting human rights defenders, recognising that these actors play an important role in protecting lands, territories and resources. In addition, the due diligence obligations under the CSDDD should apply to the full value chain and to potential and actual impacts, irrespective of the nature of business relationships, for instance, whether it is formal or informal, direct or indirect. Furthermore, the letter requests that the letter “[e]xtends the obligation to carry out human rights and environmental due diligence to the financial sector.” Where human rights impacts are identified, the financial actor must consult with the communities impacted and any decisions taken to advance or stop the projects must be done by said communities: “If their due diligence identifies serious human rights and environmental impacts … the financial actors must consult with us as rightsholders to determine the appropriate response, which could include, when necessary and required by us, termination of financial agreements with companies that are causing harm even if it will financially impact the company receiving the financial service.”
- Remediation and access to justice: The open letter requests that the CSDDD define “clear standards for companies’ grievance mechanisms required under the Directive.”Companies should be required to “set up grievance mechanisms that are independent, accessible, equitable, transparent, rights-based, gender and culturally responsive and guarantee rightsholders’ protection from threats and retaliation.” Grievance mechanisms should be developed with the consultation of rightsholders at the core, which underpins the broader human rights due diligence process. Indeed, the letter requests that the CSDDD “[r]equires companies to consult and ensure the meaningful and effective participation of rightsholders (including women and youth, as well as human rights, land and environmental defenders throughout their due diligence processes.” This ensures the results meet the needs and expectations of affected rightsholders. The consultation process should be accompanied with financial, administrative and translation support to ensure rightsholders can navigate EU procedural rules and submit their concerns.
- Interconnections between human rights, environmental policies and business strategy: The open letter requests that the CSDDD “[r]equires companies to include plans to end deforestation in their business strategy.” This is in addition to companies having a 1.5°C-aligned business strategy as outlined in the 2015 Paris Agreement. The letter further recognises how companies’ environmental impacts, such as deforestation, causes adverse human rights impacts: “Corporate activities continue to cause dire environmental impacts and hasten climate change, severely impacting our access to traditional foods, and increasing the occurrence and intensity of natural disasters on our territories.”