On December 2 2020, Jubilee Australia hosted a session on Civil Society and Human Rights Defenders in the Pacific in the very first UN Pacific Forum on Business and Human Rights.
Like so many other regions of the world, the Pacific Island region plays host to sectors where the abuse of human rights by business actors is prevalent if not common. Access to land and ocean resources is a major cause of conflict, as corporations look to secure rights to harvest the wealth of the region’s land and oceans. In many cases, the companies involved are multinational enterprises that are not based in the Pacific, but who nevertheless have operations there.
This panel will explore these questions with respect to three sectors in particular: forestry, the mining/extractives and fishing. What are the types of pressures that activists in the Pacific face when it comes to these sectors? How are human rights defenders in PIC civil society responding to these threats? How can the protection of human rights defenders relate to the UN Guiding Principles on Human Rights (UNGPs)? And what can be done to give greater protection to them?
This session aimed to:
- Provide a spotlight on the challenges facing human rights defenders in the Pacific, including the dangers they face;
- Identify the main causes that are putting human rights defenders at risk; and
- Begin to discuss how the business and human rights community might begin to create a safer environment for human rights defenders in the Pacific.
Dr Luke Fletcher | Executive Director, Jubilee Australia Research Centre
Emmanuel Peni | Human Rights Defender and Co-ordinator, Project Sepik (PNG)
Andy Shen | Senior Oceans Adviser, Greenpeace USA
Natasha Khan | Coordinator, Diploma in Leadership, Governance and Human Rights, University of South Pacific School of Governance
Tevita Naikasowalu | Caritas (Fiji)