UN experts welcome business leaders standing up for missing Saudi journalist
GENEVA (19 October 2018) – A UN expert group has welcomed the decision by a number of the world’s business leaders to pull out of a high-level investment conference in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia (23-25 October), to show their concerns over the case of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
“Their decision to withdraw from the conference underlines how companies can use their leverage to address human rights concerns,” said Dante Pesce, who chairs the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights.
“Business leaders need to take a strong interest in keeping civic space open wherever they operate. For it is only in an environment where journalists and human rights defenders are able to speak freely that businesses can effectively identify and prevent negative human rights impacts.”
The practical steps that businesses need to take to avoid causing human rights harm is the focus of a report that the UN expert group presented to the UN General Assembly earlier this week.* It is also the central theme of this year’s United Nations Forum on Business and Human Rights (Geneva, 26-28 November), which will include a focus on the critical importance of civic space for corporate respect for human rights** in line with the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.
Khashoggi has not been seen since entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on 2 October. UN experts have called for an independent international investigation into his disappearance, and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has urged the Governments of Saudi Arabia and Turkey to ensure a prompt, thorough, effective, impartial and transparent investigation.