UN Committee Concerned about UPM Actions in Uruguay
At the end of its last session, on March 5th, the United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) regretted that in Finland there is no regulatory framework that obliges companies under its jurisdiction to respect human rights and expressed concern about the lack of a full evaluation of the impacts of the UPM project in Uruguay.
At the meeting from February 15 to March 5, the CDESC received a denounce from four Finnish social entities, supported by more than 80 non-governmental organizations from Uruguay and other parts of the world, about the negative consequences in terms of human rights of the contract signed by UPM and the Uruguayan government for the installation of a new pulp mill.
In point (6) of the session’s conclusions, the UN Committee notes that “it is concerned at the limited impact of the implementation” of the Finnish Action Plan on Business and Human Rights and “at the absence of legal obligations for businesses under the State party’s jurisdiction to exercise human rights due diligence“.
It goes on to say that: “In this regard, the Committee is concerned at reports of lack of a thorough human rights impact assessment of a project operated abroad by UPM, a company domiciled in the State party (Finland)”, referring to the performance of UPM in Uruguay.
In the following point (7) of the conclusions, “The Committee recommends that the State party adopt a regulatory framework on human rights due diligence making it compulsory for companies domiciled in the State party or under its jurisdiction to identify, prevent and address human rights violations in their operations, including abroad.“
And it adds: “Such companies should be liable for violations. Victims, including non-nationals, should be able to access effective remedies in the State party.“ Consequently, “the Committee urges the State party to conduct investigations when reports of human rights violations by Finnish companies are brought to its knowledge.”
Finally, in accordance with the procedure for following up on its observations, the UN Committee requested Finland “to provide, within 24 months of the approval of these concluding observations, information on the implementation of the recommendations contained in paragraphs 7″, that is, the adoption of a regulatory framework on business and human rights.
The concern expressed by the Committee was met with surprise by UPM in Finland. “We find it regrettable” said Saara Tahvanainen, Director of Stakeholder Relations. The company alleges that it carried out several studies on the application of human rights in Uruguay, but the social organizations precisely request an independent audit in this regard.
Movement for a Sustainable Uruguay (Movus)
March 9, 2021.