German Foreign Minister Maas in Brazil
No partnership without human rights! (Press Release)
From the viewpoint of the Göttingen-based human rights organization Society for Threatened Peoples (STP), German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas must place emphasis on the aspect of human rights during his meeting with Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro. Thus, the first visit of a German cabinet member to Brazil since Bolsonaro's inauguration in January 2019 should also be about the question how the indigenous peoples of Brazil are treated. The right-wing populist president hardly misses an opportunity to cut down on human rights in his home country, and it is especially the indigenous communities and the women of the country who are suffering under the new regime.
"If Mr. Maas wants to discuss topics such as multilateralism and free trade with a Trump ally, the aspect of human rights standards must play an important role as well," emphasized Yvonne Bangert, the STP's expert on indigenous peoples. "The National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights, with which the Ministry of Foreign Affairs likes to present itself in a good light, must also – and especially – apply to international negotiations." The National Action Plan requires German companies to respect human rights throughout their value chain – but no company will feel obliged to do so if the Ministry of Foreign Affairs ignores its own standards.
The human rights situation in Brazil has deteriorated significantly since President Bolsonaro took office. He wants to allow international companies to extract natural resources from protection zones on indigenous land in the environmentally sensitive Amazon region. A few days ago, several indigenous organizations took part in the protest camp Acampamento Terra Livre in the government district of Brasilia. Together with various international human rights organizations, they protested against Bolsonaro's attacks on their rights and institutions. The STP was involved as well.
The German National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights was drafted by an interministerial committee, chaired by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. It governs the responsibilities of German companies with regard to the protection of human rights, and it defines universal and verifiable standards. Business representatives had protested against the plan.
Header Image: Sandro Halank via Wikimedia