Canada is Assessed at the UN, Receiving Recommendations to Curb Abuse by its Companies and Financial Institutions

Amazon Watch et al.

We demand from Canada truth, reparations, and justice for traditional communities and Indigenous peoples affected by the impact of mining and oil activities in Latin America.

(Geneva) In the framework of the 4th cycle of Canada's Universal Periodic Review (UPR), more than 50 Latin American organizations and social movements prepared three reports highlighting corporate abuses perpetrated by 37 Canadian projects in 9 countries in our region.

On November 10, 2023, Canada appeared before the UN Human Rights Council and, for the first time, received 332 strong recommendations – several of which reference Canada’s responsibility for human rights violations committed by its companies abroad. This achievement was made possible thanks to advocacy efforts and public critique by civil society organizations in Latin America and the Caribbean, where these impacts are experienced firsthand by traditional communities, Indigenous peoples, and Afro-descendant populations.

Among the recommendations made by different countries, the Marshall Islands Luxembourg and Slovakia requested that Canada "Hold Canadian-registered companies accountable for environmental damage to oceans, marine life and the seabed,” as well as "Maintain its approach to advancing human rights and democratic values as part of Canada’s domestic and foreign policy.” In addition, Colombia and Ecuador requested that Canada "Strengthen measures to eradicate barriers that prevent individuals and communities that are affected by the overseas operations of Canadian businesses from accessing effective judicial remedies and reparations in the country," as well as to "Ensure access to justice for persons affected by business activities abroad.” Mexico recommended promoting “a due diligence law to prevent any abuse by Canadian companies and financial institutions operating in its territory and abroad," while Chile emphasized the need to "Implement the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, ensuring compliance by Canadian companies with their responsibility to respect human rights.”

Regarding the Canadian Ombudsperson for Responsible Enterprise (CORE), Peru and the Philippines made specific recommendations calling for the CORE to be strengthened, made independent, and given a mandate for Corporate Social Responsibility, in particular being given the legal authority to effectively investigate allegations of abuses committed by Canadian companies. Japan called for further measures to be taken to implement a human rights-based approach in the contexts of disability rights and business. Luxembourg recommended that Canada "Ensure access to remedies for victims of human rights abuses committed abroad by Canadian transnational corporations.”

In light of these recommendations and the tabling of the report from the 4th cycle of the UPR, today we address Canadian authorities with a clear and urgent demand to adopt the recommendations related to its compliance on extraterritorial obligations for business and human rights, rights of Indigenous peoples and traditional communities, climate change and the right to a healthy and balanced environment. Furthermore, we insist that Canada review and implement the recommendations made by Latin American civil society, among them:

  • To pass and approve mandatory human rights and environmental due diligence legislation that requires companies to prevent adverse impacts in their offshore operations, stressing the prohibition on carrying out activities that violate human and environmental rights, with the establishment of significant penalties for their non-compliance.
  • Ensuring the legal right of affected people abroad to have recourse to Canadian courts.
  • Free Trade Agreements should NOT include international arbitration mechanisms that undermine the sovereignty of the States receiving the investment; these agreements should not be designed to protect Canadian mining companies over national sovereignty and the rights of communities and the protection of territory and water, or seek to undermine independent control mechanisms to determine the legal responsibility of Canadian companies.
  • Ratify ILO Convention 169 on Indigenous and Tribal Peoples and the American Convention on Human Rights, guaranteeing access to justice, reparation and prevention of violations.
  • Develop mechanisms for access to information, transparency and effective social participation both in Canada and in the countries of operation.
  • Refrain from engaging in projects without the free, prior and informed consent of Indigenous and local communities.
  • Implement measures to mitigate the environmental impact of fossil fuel operations, with special attention to ecosystems such as the Amazon, glaciers and the periglacial environment.
  • Ensure that Canadian companies in the process of closure fully remediate and repair the damage caused to nature and to Indigenous peoples and local communities. 
  • Gold mining is one of the most polluting industries, especially if it is located in ecologically fragile areas such as the páramos and the Amazon where communities have not given their consent. It is necessary to establish regulations for gold suppliers that demonstrate the legality of its origin, especially when it comes from Amazonian countries.
  • Regulate public and private credit and investment from Canadian institutions that finance extractive activities, in accordance with international human rights standards.
  • Design a comprehensive energy transition plan that respects human rights and progressively abandons extractive industries in favor of taking measures to mitigate against the climate crisis.

We, the undersigned civil society organizations and human rights defenders, reiterate our deep concern, determination, and commitment to address issues of corporate accountability and to take steps to ensure that the ongoing abuse faced by communities impacted by Canadian investment in the region does not go unpunished.

Canada has an international obligation to protect human rights in all of its business and financial operations that impact traditional communities and Indigenous peoples, within and beyond its borders. To date, however, Canada has failed to take adequate measures to fulfill this obligation. Therefore, we urge Canadian authorities to demonstrate concretely its political will in its implementation plan, committing the necessary resources to guarantee the protection of human rights and the rights of nature.

On our end, those of us who sign this statement today commit to continue defending the territories and fighting for justice and the accountability of Canadian companies. We will not remain silent as long as our communities continue to be affected. Together, we can achieve meaningful change and build a world where corporate accountability is a reality for all.

Signatory organizations:
Amazon Watch
Proyecto sobre Organización, Desarrollo, Educación e Investigación (PODER), México
Alianza de Organizaciones por los Derechos Humanos, Ecuador
MiningWatch Canadá (Alerta Minera Canadá)
Protection International Mesoamérica
Coordinadora ecuatoriana de organizaciones para la defensa de la naturaleza y el medio ambiente- CEDENMA, Ecuador
Red Dominicana de Estudios y Empoderamiento Afrodescendiente -RedAfros-, República Dominicana
International Rivers
Movimiento Contracorriente del Ecuador
Corporación Ambiental APT Norte, Ecuador
Unión de Afectados y afectadas por las Operaciones Petroleras de Texaco- UDAPT
Pueblo Shuar Arutam- Psha, Ecuador
Centro de Información sobre Empresas y Derechos Humanos (CIEDH)
Asociación de Cabildos Indígenas Inga  del Municipio de Villagarzón Putumayo - ACIMVIP, Colombia
Asociación Minga, Colombia
Organización Nacional de los Pueblos Indígenas de la Amazonía Colombiana - OPIAC, Colombia
Asociación Ambiente y Sociedad, Colombia
Pax Christi Internacional Programa para América Latina y el Caribe
Asociación Interamericana para la Defensa del Ambiente (AIDA)
PRODH, Ecuador
Defensa y Conservación Ecológica de Intag, Ecuador
Mesa colombiana por los derechos humanos frente al poder empresarial, Colombia
Fundación Ambiente y Recursos Naturales (FARN), Argentina
Articulación de mujeres defensoras de la naturaleza Saramanta Warmikuna, Ecuador
Movimiento Mujeres Sectores Luna Creciente, Ecuador
El Cabildo Popular por el Agua de Cuenca, Ecuador
Yasunidos Cuenca, Ecuador
Colectivo de Antropólogas del Ecuador
Red de Antropología del Ecuador
Asociación de Líderes Comunitarios Red Angel Shingre, Ecuador
Consejo de Defensoras y Defensores de DD HH y de la Naturaleza de la Provincia de Orellana, Ecuador
CEDHU, Ecuador
Acción Ecológica, Ecuador
Consejo de Defensoras y Defensores de los Derechos Humanos y la Naturaleza de la provincia de Sucumbios. Ecuador
Colectivo Nacional Amazónico. Ecuador 
Proyecto Socioambiental Dulcepamba, Ecuador
Surkuna Ecuador
Comuna, Ecuador
Asociación de Líderes Comunitarios Associação Alternativa Terrazul - Brasil
Red Angel Shingre, Ecuador
Comunidad Amazónica Cordillera del Cóndor Mirador (CASCOMI), Ecuador.
Colectivo Agroecológico del Ecuador
Red Muqui, Perú
Centro de Documentación en Derechos Humanos "Segundo Montes Mozo SJ" (CSMM), Ecuador
Centro de Estudios Ecuménicos 
Amazon Frontlines
Alianza Ceibo, Ecuador
Comunidad A’i Cofan Sinangoe, Ecuador
Red Iglesias y Minería capítulo Honduras
Plataforma Internacional Contra la Impunidad Honduras y Guatemala 
Instituto de Estudios Ecologistas del Tercer Mundo, Ecuador
Movimiento Laudato Si capítulo de Honduras
Articulação dos Povos Indígenas do Brasil (APIB), Brasil
Centro de Desarrollo Humano. CDH/Honduras
Foro Medioambiental de San Cristóbal, R.D.
Associação Alternativa Terrazul - Brasil 
Instituto INDIA AMAZÔNIA - Brasil
CEOSL, Ecuador
Quito Sin Minería, Ecuador
Bosque Modelo Chocó Andino, Ecuador
Observatorio nacional ciudadano para vigilar el cumplimiento de los derechos humanos y derechos de la naturaleza, en referencia a los procesos mineros en todas sus fases
Colectivo “Bonaerenses Unidos Protectores del Ecosistema (BUPROE)
Corporación Ambiental “Asociación de Propietarios de Tierras Rurales del Norte del Ecuador S.C” (APT Norte)
Frente de Defensa Comunitario “Frente Antiminero Pacto por la Vida, el Agua y la Naturaleza”
Germán Jácome López, Docente Universitario Jubilado 
Hedme Castro Directora Ejecutiva Asociación para una Ciudadanía Participativa ACI PARTICIPA . HONDURAS
Adalid Gamero Vega Director Unidad de Protección Integral a defensores y defensores en riesgo
Centro de Investigación y Promoción de los Derechos Humanos (CIPRODEH)
YASunidos, Ecuador
Tribunal Internacional de Derechos de la Naturaleza
GARN-Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature
APTNorte, Ecuador
Red Nacional de Pastoral Ecológica
Comisión Nacional de Ecología Integral de la CEH
Red Eclesial Ecológica Mesoamericana REMAM
Centro de Derechos Económicos y Sociales -CDES, Ecuador
CooperAcción, Perú
Tejido Violeta Galápagos
Asamblea Comunitaria San Cristóbal - Galápagos
OMASNE- Observatorio de conflictos Mineros, Ambientales y Sociales del Norte del Ecuador.
Fundación Libera contra la Trata de Personas y la Esclavitud en Todas sus Formas