Policy Brief: Eight Organisations alert the OECD on serious weaknesses in Brazil’s Responsible Business Conduct policies

2019 dam disaster at Brumadinho, in Brazil. Photo : Guilherme Venaglia

In 2020, the OECD Working Party on Responsible Business Conduct (WPRBC) is conducting a responsible business conduct (RBC) policy review of Brazil. In a brief published today, FIDH and seven brasilian and international NGOs alert on the serious governance gaps regarding adherence to human rights, environmental law and regulation, preservation of indigenous territory, and respect for social welfare and workers’ rights, that need to be urgently addressed.

In recent years, the Brazilian government has engaged in numerous attempts to undermine legal and institutional frameworks essential for human rights and environmental protections, with detrimental effects on enabling conditions for responsible business conduct. Such practices have worsened since the onset of the administration of President Jair Bolsonaro in January 2019, with intensified attacks on democratic institutions and disregard for the rule of law.

There are salient examples of private sector actors that are commited to responsible business conduct in Brazil, with serious commitments to human rights and environmental protection. However, there are alarming cases of economic actors who have actively engaged in systemic violations of domestic legislation and international standards protecting human rights and the environment. Unfortunately, there are still widespread examples of corporations, both national and multinational, that have demonstrated complacency and complicity in the face of deteriorating conditions of environmental governance in Brazil, despite their substantial political weight.

The current legal, institutional, and political framework of Brazil reveals systemic violations by corporations of human rights, environmental protections, indigenous and labour rights. The most affected populations are the most vulnerable: indigenous peoples and rural communities, human rights defenders, poor and migrant workers, women and children. These breaches are enabled by major governance gaps. The brief published today analyses such gaps and illustrates them with case studies; it proposes recommendations to build a more robust framework to guarantee responsible business conduct in the country.

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