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8 December 2023

The EU must uphold Human Rights: Defenders’ call for a Human-Rights centred CSDDD


The Spanish Presidency of the Council of the European Union,

Honourable Rapporteur Lara Wolters,

Mr Didier Reynders, Commissioner for Justice,

Brussels, 7th December 2023

Honourable decision-makers,

We write to you as defenders and advocates for those most affected by your proposed Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive (CSDDD). As Global South signatories, we represent and convey the voices of those suffering the most from irresponsible business activity, including Indigenous peoples and workers at the end of global value chains. Ahead of what may be the final negotiations on CSDDD, we request that you hear our call for a directive that protects human rights and our planet first beyond “business as usual”.

Protect our Rights and the Environment

Restrictions on the protection of our rights will enable ongoing harm to us to continue and must be removed. In particular, we again call on you not to exclude Indigenous Rights, nor key ILO and other international instruments on the rights of workers, human rights defenders and environmental protection. Recognising our dependence as humans on the natural environment for food, health, and livelihoods, and its spiritual significance for many of us, we stress the dire threat to our planet's ecological integrity. Protecting our life support systems - water, soil, forests and air - is essential. The CSDDD must ensure the broadest environmental protection possible to counter ever increasing business-driven ecological destruction.

Protect our Climate & our Future

While humanity is on track to reach a disastrous 3ºC warming by 2050, climate change is already causing severe harm to people, the environment and the economy, with particularly disastrous consequences for marginalised groups, such as Indigenous Peoples and women. Businesses play a major role in driving up greenhouse gas emissions. The CSDDD must require companies to effectively implement strong transition plans with time-bound targets for scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions. The inclusion of the Paris Agreement as well as the ability of rights holders to take companies to court is nothing short of an absolute necessity.

Defend our Rights and Access to Justice

Restricting civil liability to harm that has been ‘caused to a natural or legal person’ and only where there is an aim ‘to protect the natural or legal person’ means our group – including indigenous – rights are excluded. Workers in global value chains face the systematic trampling of their rights, including violent intimidations and union busting and widespread, serious restrictions to collective bargaining. For us to have any hope of actually defending our rights, all access to justice measures (recommended by the EU Fundamental Rights Agency in 2017, 2021 and 2023 together with the European Law Institute) must be adhered to. For us, justice depends on it.

Make sure we are taken into account – meaningful and safe stakeholder engagement

Our voices continue to be ignored when companies make business decisions that affect us even though we are the ones most at risk for raising issues around irresponsible business activity. Ensure our voices are taken into account when companies are making decisions that affect our lives and livelihoods, recognise the role of trade unions and worker representatives and protect us from reprisals and retaliations when denouncing business-related human rights and environmental violations. Including an obligation on companies to conduct meaningful and safe stakeholder engagement at all stages of the due diligence process will result in tailored and effective prevention, mitigation, and remediation of adverse impacts as well as protection of human rights defenders.

Ensure obligations for all those who cause Harm

It is beyond dispute that EU banks, insurers, investors and asset managers are involved in severe adverse impacts on our human rights, environment and climate, while our global financial system is set up to prioritise yielding dividends at the expense of investing in safety and security measures. By excluding the financial sector you condemn us to these ongoing and future adverse impacts. It is unjustifiable. For our protection, meaningful due diligence obligations must apply to the entire financial sector. Because of their inherent limitations, the use of third-party audits and industry initiatives cannot be automatically considered equivalent to appropriate due diligence measures. Auditors should be held accountable for the harms caused by faulty auditing.

In conclusion, we urgently call upon you as EU policy makers to champion a legislation that places human rights, environmental preservation, and climate resilience at its core. The final trialogue is the last chance to elevate the directive to a standard that not only prevents harm but actively contributes to a sustainable, equitable future. Let this be a testament to the EU's unwavering dedication to human rights and its steadfast resolve to combat climate change on the global stage. The world is watching, and the choices made today will resonate for generations to come.

Signatories from Global South countries:

1. ActionAid Guatemala

2. Africa Institute for Energy Governance


3. Alianza por la Solidaridad-ActionAid,

South Africa

4. Alerte Congolaise pour l’Environnement

et les droits de l’Homme (ACEDH),

Democratic Republic of Congo

5. Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM), Philippines

6. Anton Marcus, Free Trade Zones &

General Services Employees Union, Sri


7. Articulação Internacional dos Atingidos e

Atingidas pela Vale, Brasil

8. Asociación Ambiente y Sociedad,


9. Asociación Comunitaria para el desarrollo

Serjus (ASERJUS), Guatemala

10. Asociacion Sindical de Trabajadores

Agrícolas bananeros y Campesinos

ASTAC, Ecuador

11. Asociación Salvadoreña de Ayuda

Humanitaria PRO-VIDA, El Salvador

12. Association Africaine de défense des

Droits de l’Homme (ASADHO), Democratic

Republic of Congo

13. Association for Action Against Violence

and Trafficking in Human Beings – Open

Gate/La Strada, North Macedonia

14. Association Marocaine des Droits

humains (AMDH)

15. Bangladesh Apparels Workers

Federation (BAWF)

16. Bangladesh Center for Workers

Solidarity (BCWS), Director, Kalpona Akter

17. Bangladesh Garments & Industrial

Workers Federation (BGIWF)

18. Bahrain Human Rights Society (BHRS)

19. Bernardo Caal, Human Rights

Defender, Guatemala

20. Carlos Herz Sáenz, Director General,

Centro de estudios regionales andinos

Bartolomé de las Casas, Perú

21. Center for Environmental Concerns,


22. Center for Human Rights and Civic

Education, Nigeria

23. Centre for Financial Accountability, India

24. Centre national d’appui au

développement et à la participation

populaire (CENADEP), Democratic

Republic of the Congo

25. Centre for Alliance of Labor and Human

Rights (CENTRAL), Cambodia

26. Centro de Documentación e

Información, Bolivia, Director, Oscar


27. Centro de Estudios Sociales y

Culturales Antonio de Montesinos A.C,


28. Coalition des Alternatives Africaines

Dette et Développement (CAD-Mali), Mali

29. Colectivo Madreselva, Guatemala

30. Comité Cívico por los Derechos

Humanos del Meta (CCDHM), Colombia

31. Comité de Unidad Campesina,


32. Community Resource Centre, Thailand

33. Conseil National des Organisations de

la Société Civile Guinéenne (CNOSCG),


34. Cooperacción, Perú

35. Daniel Marín López, Independent

Researcher on Human Rights and

Business, Colombia

36. Dabindu Collective, Sri Lanka

37. Diana Figueroa Prado, Expert on

business and human rights, Human Rights

Defender, México

38. Equitable Cambodia

39. Esperanza Gutiérrez, Expert on

business and human rights, Human Rights

Defender, México

40. Eugenio Guerrero, Corporación de

Apoyo a Comunidades Populares


41. Fair Finance International

42. Fairtrade Africa

43. Forum social sénégalais (FSS)

44. Fórum Permanente São Francisco,


45. Frente Mineira de Lutadas Atingidas e

Atingidos pela Mineração (FLAMa-MG),


46. Fundación Libera contra la Trata de

Personas y la Esclavitud en Todas sus

Formas, Chile

47. Garment Labour Union (GLU), India

48. Global Rights Advocacy (GRA)

49. Guido Granizo Bahamonde,

Administrador, COMUNIDEC Fundación de

Desarrollo, Ecuador

50. Home Based Women Workers

Federation (HBWWF), Pakistan, ZEHRA


51. Human Rights Defenders Alert (HRDA),


52. Instituto Cordilheira, Brasil

53. Instituto Lavoro, Brasil

54. International Accountability Project,

India, Vaishnavi Varadarajan

55. Kalpona Akter, Director, Bangladesh

Center for Workers Solidarity (BCWS)

56. Labour Education Foundation, Pakistan

57. Lebanese Center for Human Rights


58. Living Laudato Si’ Philippines,


59. Louvain Coopération en RDC,

Democratic Republic of Congo

60. María Josefa Macz, Human Rights

Defender, Guatemala

61. Mary Kambo, Kenya Human Rights


62. Minerva Business and Human Rights

Association, Türkiye

63. Movimento pelas Serras e Águas de

Minas Gerais, Brazil

64. Movimento pela Preservação da Serra

do Gandarela, Minas Gerais, Brazil

65. National Fisheries Solidarity, Sri Lanka

66. National Garment Workers Federation

(NGWF), Bangladesh

67. Nasir Mansoor, General Secretary,

National Trade Union Federation (NTUF),


68. Nicholas Omonuk, End Fossil Occupy


69. Oxfam Brasil

70. Pax Christi International

71. Plataforma Internacional contra la

Impunidad, Región Centroamérica

72. Partners in Change, India

73. Praxis, Institute for Participatory

Practices, India

74. Proyecto de Derechos Económicos,

Sociales y Culturales (ProDESC), México

75. Proyecto sobre Organización,

Desarrollo, Educación e Investigación

(PODER) México

76. Red Iglesias y Minería, América Latina

77. Red Muqui, Perú

78. Réseau National Dette et

Développement (RNDD), Niger

79. Sar Mora, Program Manager,

Cambodian Alliance of Trade Unions

(CATU), Human Rights Defender

80. Social Action for Community and

Development (SACD), Cambodia

81. Social Awareness and Voluntary

Education (SAVE), Tiruppur, Tamil Nadu,


82. Society (SRS), Bangladesh, Safety and


83. SOS Serra da Piedade, Minas Gerais,


84. Support Community in Democracy

Alliance (SCODA), Kenya

85. The Mekong Butterfly, Thailand

86. Tola Moeun, Center for Alliance of

Labor and Human Rights (CENTRAL),


87. Ume Laila Azhar, Executive Director,

Home Net Pakistan

88. Vaishnavi Varadarajan, International

Accountability Project, India

89. WAPA International

90. Youth Advocate for Climate Action

Philippines (YACAP), Fridays for Future,


91. Yayasan Lembaga Bantuan Hukum

Indonesia (YLBHI), Indonesia

92. Yves Komlan Dossou, Coordinator,


93. Zehra Khan, Home Based Women

Workers Federation (HBWWF), Pakistan

Supporting EU organisations:

1. achACT Belgique

2. ActionAid France

3. Alianza por la Solidaridad

4. Alboan Foundation

5. Amnesty International

6. Avocats Sans Frontières

7. BankTrack

8. Broederlijk Delen

9. Business and Human Rights

Resource Centre (BHRRC)

10. Campagna Impresa 2030

11. CCFD-Terre Solidaire

12. Centre national de coopération au

développement (CNCD-11.11.11),


13. CIDSE, International family of

Catholic social justice organisations

14. Clean Clothes Campaign

15. Climate Action Network Europe

16. Comisión General Justicia y Paz de


17. Comisión General Justicia y Paz de


18. Danish 92 Group

19. Development Policy Network

Saxony e.V.

(Entwicklungspolitisches Netzwerk

Sachsen e.V.)

20. DKA Austria

21. Entraide et Fraternité Belgique

22. Environmental Bureau (EEB)

23. EU-LAT network

24. European Coalition for Corporate

Justice (ECCJ)

25. European Constitutional Centre for

Human Rights (ECCHR)

26. European Environmental Bureau


27. European Trade Union

Confederation (ETUC)

28. Fair Action Sweden

29. Fair Trade Advocacy Office

30. Fairtrade International

31. FEMNET e.V.

32. Finnwatch

33. Focus Association for Sustainable


34. Forest Peoples Programme

35. Front Line Defenders

36. Global 2000 - Friends of the Earth


37. Global Witness

38. Green Legal Impact Germany e.V.

39. Initiative Lieferkettengesetz

40. International Platform against

Impunity (Switzerland)

41. IUCN National Committee of the


42. Jesuit European Social Centre

43. Jugend und Umwelt Europe (Youth

and Environment Europe), Czech


44. Kampagne für Saubere Kleidung

Deutschland (Clean Clothes

Campaign Germany)

45. La Coordinadora de Organizaciones

para el Desarrollo- España

46. Les Amis de la Terre - Belgique asbl

47. Ligue des droits humains ASBL

48. Ligue des droits humains Belgique

49. Manos Unidas España

50. NeSoVe

51. NOAH - Friends of the Earth


52. Notre Affaire A Tous

53. OECD Watch Network

54. Observatorio de Responsabilidad

Social Corporativa

55. Plataforma por Empresas


56. Polski Instytut Praw Człowieka i

Biznesu, Polish Institute for

Business and Human Rights

57. Pro Ethical Trade Finland

58. Proyecto de Derechos Económicos,

Sociales y Culturales (ProDESC),


59. Reds - Red de solidaridad para la

transformación social

60. Rainforest Alliance

61. Red de Solidaridad para la

Transformación Social (Reds)

62. Schone Kleren Campagne NL

63. SE TEM Spain

64. Society for Threatened Peoples


65. Solidarité Socialiste, Solsoc

66. Solsoc Solidarité Socialiste

67. Südwind, Austria

68. Südwind - Institute for Economy and


69. Swedish Society for Nature

Conservation (SSNC)

70. Swedwatch

71. WeWorld - GVC

72. Youth and Environment Europe

73. Youth Advocate for Climate Action

Philippines (YACAP), Fridays for

Future, Philippin