Published on March 12, 2014
Quito, Geneva, 10 February 2014 Subject: Open Letter from human rights organizations on the contradictions in Ecuadorian human rights policy Ambassador Luis Gallegos Chiriboga Representative of Ecuador before the Office and Specialized Agencies of the United Nations Organization Geneva, Switzerland. Dear Ambassador, As you and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Human Mobility in Ecuador know, the undersigning regional and international organizations have publicly expressed support for several initiatives taken by the Ecuadorian government regarding human rights. Specifically, those initiatives to develop a process within the Human Rights Council that would eventually culminate in the adoption of a treaty on human rights and business; this would represent a significant step forward that the international community should take after adopting the “Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights” (Human Rights Council, resolution 17/4, 16 June 2011). It is in this context that we welcome the announcement you have made in the Regional Forum on Business and Human Rights for Latin America and the Caribbean, held August 28th – 30th , 2013 in Medellín, Colombia. And later, at the 24th session of the Human Rights Council, where as Ecuador´s representative before the United Nations in Geneva, you made a historical declaration regarding “Transnational Corporations and Human Rights”, which was supported by the African Group, the Arabic Group, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Kyrgyzstan, Cuba, Nicaragua, Bolivia, Venezuela and Peru. Over a hundred regional and international human rights organizations and social movements welcomed this historic petition on September 13th of last year, as it signaled the loss of trust in voluntary mechanisms which have characterized the debate on corporate social responsibility and facilitated the systematic impunity of transnational corporations. This action taken by the Ecuadorian State was ratified in the Second Forum on Business and Human Rights, held in Geneva and convened by the working group on the issue of human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises on December 3rd and 4th . Despite this position before the international community, we are troubled and concerned by some decisions of the Ecuadorian government which send contradictory messages regarding its human rights priorities. Some of these decisions are: 1.- The executive branch´s decision to dissolve the Pachamama Foundation, a non-governmental organization whose mission has been to promote and defend environmental and indigenous rights for over 16 years, by the express petition of the Ministry of Internal Affairs addressed to the Ministry of the Environment, based on the Public and State security Act, and Executive Decree no. 16, a lower-ranking legal
norm that was been subject to three public unconstitutionality actions before the Constitutional Court and a writ of amparo before the Judiciary; 2. - The reiterated public statements made by the highest State authorities (President, Vice-President, Chancellor, National Legal Secretary of the President) on Ecuador´s possible “withdrawal” from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR). We suppose that these statements are related to a possible “denouncement” of the American Convention on Human Rights (American Convention), and not to an unlikely withdrawal from the Organization of American States (OAS). Obviously, denouncing the American Convention would have complex and serious consequences for the victims of human rights violations and the users of the Inter-American System of Human Rights (IASHR), fostering impunity for human rights violations and affecting the “principle of universality” which the Ecuadorian State legitimately proclaims in regional and international forums. 3. - The decision of the Ecuadorian government to embark on and lead together with other countries in the region a reform process of the IASHR and in particular the IACHR, which were part of an exhaustive analytical and reform process promoted by the General Assembly and the OAS Permanent Council for two years, a process which concluded on March 22 of last year, in the XLIV Extraordinary General Assembly held in Washington D.C. This initiative included a call for three conferences of the States Parties to the American Convention (Guayaquil, 11 March 2013; Cochabamba, 14 Mayo 2013; and Montevideo, 22 January 2014). The agendas of these conferences were not officially released to the OAS General Assembly or Permanent Council, the IACHR, civil society organizations, social movements or key actors in the IASHR. Mr. Ambassador, as you may understand, this national and international human rights policy does not reflect the discourse rightly used by the Ecuadorian State at the Human Rights Council, especially regarding the need of a new binding international human rights instrument that would contribute to ending the impunity currently enjoyed by transnational corporations in our countries. Ecuador, in particular, is currently litigating an asymmetrical case against one of the most powerful transnational oil companies in the world, Chevron-Texaco. Dear Ambassador, we acknowledge Ecuador´s initiative at the Human Rights Council, which demonstrates that Ecuador aims to strengthen human rights systems and wishes to end impunity for human rights violations committed by the corporate sector. Nevertheless, this action does not justify Ecuadorian policies that weaken human rights in its territory and the Americas, which is how Ecuador has been treating the Inter-American System of Human Rights, the Pachamama Foundation and the Ecuadorian Amazon. We are calling on the Ecuadorian government to reconsider its policies regarding the Inter-American System, revoke its decision on the Pachamama Foundation, and protect the rights of indigenous people and of nature in line with the Ecuadorian constitution. Sincerely, C.c. Inter-American Commission on Human Rights Permanent Representative of Ecuador to the OAS Sub-Commission on Human Rights of the European Parliament European External Action Service
European Union Delegation in Ecuador Ambassador of Ecuador in Brussels and Stockholm Supporters of this letter: Acción por la Biodiversidad Ágora Espacio Civil, Paraguay Asociación Pro Derechos Humanos (APRODEH), Peru Asociación por la Integración Latinoamericana (APILA), Chile Bangladesh Fish Workers’ Alliance Coordinadora Andina de Organizaciones Indígenas (CAOI) Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL), Washington D.C. Centro de Derechos Económicos y Sociales, Ecuador Centro de Documentación en Derechos Humanos “Segundo Montes Mozo S.J. (CSMM), Ecuador Colectivo Pro Derechos Humanos (PRODH), Ecuador Comité de América Latina y el Caribe para la Defensa de los Derechos de las Mujeres (CLADEM) Comité Permanente por la Defensa de los Derechos Humanos, Ecuador Confederación de los pueblos Kichwa del Ecuador (ECUARUNARI) Confederación Unitaria de Comerciantes Minoristas y Trabajadores Autónomos del Ecuador Coordinadora Nacional de Ecuatorianos en España Ecologistas en Acción, España Entrepueblos-Entrepobles-Herriarte-Entrepobos, España FIAN Internacional Franciscans International Fundación de Culturas Indígenas Kawsay, Ecuador Global Initiative for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights GRAIN Habitat International Coalition Human Rights Without Frontiers Int'l, Bélgica Instituto de Estudios Políticos para América Latina y África, España Instituto de Estudios sobre Desarrollo y Cooperación Internacional de la Universidad del País Vasco (HEGOA), España. International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs, Dinamarca Labour, Health and Human Rights Development Centre Manitese, Italia Pachamama, Ecuador People's Health Movement (PHM) Plataforma Interamericana de Derechos Humanos, Democracia y Desarrollo (PIDHDD) Share the World's Resources, Reino Unido Transnational Institute, Holanda Koepel van de Vlaamse Noord-Zuidbeweging - 11.11.11 /Coalición flamenca para la Cooperación NorteSur – 11.11.11 Youth Acting for Change Nepal (YAC Nepal)
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