Business and Human Rights:

Inter-American Standards

Regardless of their size, activity sector, operational context, or structure, businesses can fill a relevant role in the political, economic, and social life of populations, and be key actors for the effective enjoyment of human rights. However, they can also reinforce the already-existing inequalities in societies and get involved in human rights abuses and violations, often in a serious and reiterated way. The Inter-American human rights system has not remained idle to these situations and has referred to the human rights instances where there is an involvement of businesses or economic actors and States do not comply with their corresponding obligations.


The objective of this report is to clarify State obligations regarding human rights in the context of business activities and the effects that they can generally have upon businesses, drawing from the Inter-American legal experience. Moreover, it seeks to strengthen action on prevention, due diligence, oversight, accountability, and access to timely and adequate reparations for the victims of these situations. It also refers to specific contexts of special attention on this topic within the continent, as well as the differentiated impacts on people and groups in vulnerable situations.

Contextos interamericanos
Contextos interamericanos
Contextos interamericanos
Contextos interamericanos
Impacto diferenciado

Inter-American Fundamental Criteria

Centrality of the person and human dignity
 Universality, Indivisibility, Interdependence and Interrelatedness of Human Rights
Equality and Non-Discrimination
Right to development
Right to a Healthy Environment
The right to defend human rights
Transparency and access to information
Free, prior and informed consultation and general mechanisms for participation
Prevention and due diligence
Accountability and effective remedy
Combating corruption and State capture

Extraterritorial Application of States' obligations and duty to cooperate

Measures taken by home States to regulate, monitor, prevent or investigate the behavior of companies domiciled in their territory that involve impacts on the realization of human rights outside their territory should not contravene other principles of general international law.


Effects of State obligations on businesses

It is widely accepted that respect for human rights is a global standard of conduct applicable to all businesses.

Under international human rights law, it is States that originally assume directly the obligations set out therein. 

Ana Mendes_Amazonia Real-2.jpg


To the States

To Companies

Actors within the OAS

Photo: Ana Méndes / Amazonia Real

With the support of:


2020 IACHR.  Business and Human Rights: Inter-American Standards is distributed under a  International Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 License.