Colombia: Challenges in the Relationship between Business and Human Rights

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Colombia, traversed from south to north by three Andean mountain ranges, with the Pacific Ocean to the west and the Caribbean Sea to the north, the plains to the east and the Amazon rainforest to the south, has a geographical diversity and an exceptional wealth of natural resources throughout its territory, which stretches across mountains, glaciers, oceans and rivers, jungles, plains and moors. However, due to increased global demand for energy, oil, electronics and the increasing population in urban centres, the exploitation of natural resources has reached unprecedented levels. In recent decades, the expansion of sectors such as the extractive industry, energy production, livestock and large scale monocultures, alongside other mega projects, has caused serious environmental and social consequences for the populations living in the areas where these projects have been implemented, including Indigenous and Afro-Colombian Peoples, and small-scale farming and fishing communities. Despite the existence of a national and international legal framework governing the human rights obligations of States and businesses, in Colombia serious violations of these rights are occurring as a result of economic development in a number of regions. Tese violations are compounded considering the armed conflict that has been ongoing for more than fifty years.