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“What’s good for civil society is good for business”

Civil rights are under attack. Here’s why the business world should care

In many countries around the world, civic freedoms have been shrinking: laws to stifle dissent have been passed, rising populism has stirred xenophobia, and those who dare to speak truth to power have faced intimidation and even violence.

Research by CIVICUS shows that 3.2 billion people now live in countries where civic space is either repressed or closed, and the warning signs suggest things are getting worse rather than better.

How does this affect business, and what role has – and should – the business world play?

When businesses erode civic freedoms
While many of these increasing restrictions come from governments, in some cases the business world is guilty of helping erode the civic space.

Last month, we made public a database tracking instances where human rights defenders working on corporate accountability issues have been attacked. For the two years covered – 2015 and 2016 – we found over 450 instances around the world.

The top six countries where these attacks occurred are all in Latin America.

In some countries, companies have quietly lobbied governments to pass legislation to limit the ability of NGOs to monitor and raise questions about projects affecting their livelihoods.

There has also been extensive use of legal systems to criminalize the legitimate work of human rights defenders, stop their funding and persecute them as “terrorists”, “traitors”, “anti-development”, or economic saboteurs. In Chile, Mapuche indigenous activists protesting forestry companies have had anti-terrorism legislation used against them. In other countries, some companies have filed defamation lawsuits against critics with the aim of silencing them... more

(World Economic Forum)


 
 
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