Business and Human Rights in Latin America

Since 2014, the Human Rights Clinic focuses on Business and Human Rights in Latin America with a view to address the responsibility of home states for the activities of private companies operating in Latin America, as well as international standards set within the Inter-American Human Rights System regarding business and human rights.

Project Partner: Due Process of Law Foundation (DPLF), Washington, D.C.

Supervisor: Professor Penelope Simons

Project Coordinator: Salvador Herencia


The impact of extractive industries on the realization of human rights in Latin America

The purpose of the initiative is to inform on the responsibility of home states for the activities of private extractive companies operating in Latin America that can lead to human rights violations. Research will focus on the legal framework in Canada, international standards set within the Inter-American Human Rights System and the identification of illustrative cases.

Project activities include:

Hearings before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights

-   Text of the Hearing Request by the HRREC's Human Rights Clinic, Due Process of Law Foundation and Justice and Corporate Accountability Campaign (October 2017);

-   Official Schedule of the Hearings from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (December 2017);

-   Text of the Human Rights Clinic Presentation (in English);

-   Video of the Hearing (audio in English and Spanish).

  • Hearing before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights regarding Business, Human Rights and Prior Consultation in the Americas (March 2015).

-   Agenda of the 154 thematic hearing

-   Text of the HR Clinic presentation (Spanish and English)

-   Text of the Participating organizations regarding the Right of Prior Consultation in the Americas (English)

-   Video of the hearing (audio is in English, Spanish and Portuguese)

Amicus briefs to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, Supreme Courts and Constitutional Courts of Latin America

  • Amicus to the Court of Appeals in Honduras related to international standards related to the arbitrary detention of human rights and environmental defenders of the Guapinol river (January 2021)

In January 2021, the Human Rights Clinic, DPLF and other organizations filed an amicus brief to the Honduras Court of Appeals related to the arbitrary detention of 8 environmental defenders in Honduras.

Since September 2019, environmental defenders of the Guapinol river have been illegally held in pre-trial detention for opposing a mining project in Guapinol, Honduras. Courts have the obligation to assure that environmental defenders are not criminalized for protecting the rivers and opposing mining projects.

-   Text of the Amicus (in Spanish)

  • Amicus to the Civil Court of the Amazon state in Brazil related to the protection of land and territory of Indigenous Peoples in Voluntary Isolation and Initial Contact in the Brazilian Amazon Forest (April 2020)

In April 2020, the Human Rights Clinic, DPLF and other organizations filed an amicus brief to the civil courts of the state of Amazonas, in Brazil, requesting the court to adopt all necessary measures to protect Indigenous Peoples in Voluntary Isolation and Initial Contact, particularly against measures adopted by the Federal government to slush funding from protection programs.

-   Text of the Amicus (in Portuguese)

  • Amicus to the Constitutional Court of Peru in a case related to the protection of land and territory of Indigenous Peoples in Voluntary Isolation and Initial Contact in the Peruvian Amazon Forest (June 2019)

In June 2019, the Human Rights Clinic, DPLF and other organizations filed an amicus brief before the Constitutional Court of Peru, requesting the court to adopt measures to protect Indigenous Peoples in Voluntary Isolation and Initial Contact. This includes the annulment of any oil and gas concession that could affect the lives and territory of the Kugapakori Nahua, Nanti and others Indigenous Reserve (RTKNN) in the Peruvian Amazon.

- Text of the Amicus (in Spanish).

  • Amicus to the Federal Supreme Court of Brazil in a case related to the recognition and protection of the right to land, territory and traditional knowledge of the Xokleng Indigenous People (January 2019)

In January 2019, the Human Rights Clinic, DPLF and other organizations filed an amicus brief to the Federal Supreme Court of Brazil in a civil suit related to Indigenous rights to land and territory. The main focus of the amicus was for the Supreme Court to establish that the legal protection and recognition of Indigenous Peoples applies before the adoption of the Constitution in 1988.

-   Text of the Amicus (in Portuguese).

  • Amicus to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in the case of Lhaka Honhat vs. Argentina, related to social, economic, cultural and environmental rights of Indigenous Peoples (March 2019)

In March 2019, the Human Rights Clinic, DPLF and other organizations filed an amicus brief to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights related to the right to territory and the protection of social, economic, cultural and environmental rights of the Lhaka Honhat Indigenous Peoples, located in the north of Argentina.

-   Text of the Amicus (in Spanish)
-   Text of the February 2020 ruling of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (in Spanish).
-   Brief commentary on the case (in English and Spanish)

  • Amicus to the Superior Court of Brazil related to the right of due process and access to justice in their own language on behalf of the Kaingang Indigenous Peoples (July 2017)

On July 2017, the Human Rights Clinic, DPLF and other organizations filed an amicus brief to a habeas corpus case related to the arrest and prosecution of Indigenous leaders for protesting against extractive activities in their territories. The amicus brief focuses on the need for the judge to assure that all charges and arguments of the prosecutor are presented in a language that the defendants understand.

-   Text of the Amicus (in Portuguese)

  • Amicus Curiae presented to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights on the Xucuru Indigenous People v. Brazil (April 2017).

On April 4, the Human Rights Clinic of the HRREC, University of Ottawa, in association with Due Process of Law Foundation, the Núcleo de Estudios en Sistemas Internacionales de Derechos Humanos of the Federal University of Paraná and the Rede Rede de Cooperação Amazônica submitted an amicus curiae on this case to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACtHR) regarding the recognition, demarcation and titling of the Xucuru indigenous territory.

In this case, the Court will have to determine if the state of Brazil is responsible for the violation of the rights of personal security, collective property and right to due process and judicial guarantees, due to the unjustifiable delay in the demarcation of the Xucuru territory, located in the Northeast of the country.

The amicus analyses the legal and administrative framework regarding the protection of Indigenous territory in Brazil, highlighting the challenges in the implementation of consultation processes. The amicus also identifies the standards applicable to the recognition, demarcation and titling under the UN and the Inter-American Human Rights System, while showing comparative experiences from Australia, Canada and New Zealand.

We are asking the IACtHR to determine and to expand on what "culturally appropriate" means in policy and legislation regarding the rights of Indigenous Peoples, while asking the Court to take into consideration the issue of "reconciliation" as a means to engage in a discussion about the relationship between the State and Indigenous Peoples as a whole.

Merits Report from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights submitting the case to the IACtHR (July 2015).

Video of the Public Hearing of the Xucuru Indigenous People v. Brazil (March 2015- In Portuguese and Spanish).

Text of the Amicus Curiae (only available in Portuguese).

  • Amicus to the Federal Supreme Court of Mexico regarding the international standards of prior consultation regarding the use of genetically modified soy beans in the territory of Mayan communities (September 2015)

-   Text of the Amicus submitted to the Supreme Court of Mexico on September 30, 2015 (in Spanish).

-   Summary of the Amicus (in English).

-   Press release of the Due Process Law Foundation (DPLF), our Clinic partner, on the facts and repercussions of the case.


The Standing of Legal Entities (corporations) before the Inter-American Human Rights System

The purpose of this initiative is to submit an amicus curiae to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights regarding the standing of legal entities before the Inter-American Human Rights System and the question of whether legal entities may be beneficiaries of the human rights protections set out in the American Convention on Human Rights.

Project Activites:

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