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Prevention is better than cure (Part II) - Forum on Business and Human Rights 2019
26 Nov 2019 -  Prevention is better than cure: exploring best strategies by States to prevent attacks on human rights defenders

Session organized by The International Federation for Human Rights - FIDH, Forest Peoples Program, International Service for Human Rights - ISHR, Forum Asia, Rights in Development, Peace Brigades International - PBI, Rafto Foundation, Plataforma Internacional contra la Impunidad, Publish What You Pay - PWYP, Defend Defenders, Global Witness, Front Line Defenders, DanChurchAid, Institute for Human Rights & Business (IHRB) and Business & Human Rights Resource Centre (BHRRC) in collaboration with the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights

About the session
This 3-hour session will explore states’ strategies to prevent attacks on and protect human rights defenders and their rights, in cases where defenders are being targeted for their work to address impacts of business activities. It will involve the perspective of defenders and affected rights holders and focus on the role that civil society, intergovernmental bodies, and businesses can play to strengthen and supplement state-based mechanisms.

Part 2:
The second part of the session will emphasize the best examples of response strategies by states, when attacks on defenders occur despite preventative efforts. Using the example of the new Peru protection mechanism, participants will discuss how existing state mechanisms can be strengthened, how businesses could support state protection of and remedy for defenders and what can be learnt from the most successful approaches to date. The discussion will also explore the importance of protection of defenders and civic freedoms by companies, in cases where the state is unable or unwilling to provide protection, using the example of a case from Equatorial Guinea in which an oil company supported a defender. Recommendations regarding good practice approaches will be drawn from each set of case studies.

Session objectives
The objective of the session will be to have an open dialogue about how to move toward a preventative approach to protection of defenders, working on business-related human rights issues, taking into account the most promising current developments in terms of state protection of defenders on national and international levels. The co-organizing civil society organizations will collect key recommendations emerging from the dialogue, to inform the Working Group’s report on the Forum and further work on this issue.

Key discussion questions
• Are existing protection mechanisms a strong enough preventative tool or are they “just” a band-aid?
• What can be done to guarantee that the promising measures such as the Peru protection mechanism becomes more effective than past efforts in preventing attacks on defenders? What are the untapped opportunities in other older models?
What are the best ways states can protect defenders, when attacks do happen, despite preventative efforts?
• What can be learnt from the Alfredo Okenve case study, and how can lessons be replicated in other cases? What are the possibilities of creating pre-established networks of support for defenders, made up of supportive companies and embassies? How can companies’ reaction time be sped up and appetite increased for collective action in support of defenders?

Debbie Stothard - Secretary-General of the International Federation of Human Rights (FIDH) and Coordinator of the Alternative ASEAN Network on Burma (ALTSEAN-Burma)

• Luisa Rios, Madre de Dios Regional Coordinator, SPDA Environmental Defenders, Indigenous Peoples
• Carlos Briceno, Deputy Permanent Representative, Permanent Mission of Peru to the United Nations Office and Other International Organizations in Geneva
• Alfredo Okenve, Civil Society Representative, Publish What You Pay (PWYP)
• Hannah Clayton, Manager, Communities and Human Rights, International Council on Mining and Metals - ICMM

(Forum on Business and Human Rights)