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UN Expert Kiai to present report comparing treatment of business and civil society to General Assembly

By Maina Kiai | October 27th 2015 at 09:54:12 GMT +0300

United Nations Special Rapporteur Maina Kiai will appear before the UN General Assembly on Oct. 27 to present his latest report, which compares States’ treatment of businesses and civil society, with an eye towards elevating conditions for the latter.

Kiai, who is the Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, is scheduled to present at approximately 11 a.m. (US Eastern Standard Time). The proceedings will be broadcast live on webtv.un.org.

The report, which is available here, compares the so-called “enabling environments” that States, multilateral organizations and other actors create for businesses and associations, and highlights instances where they are treated inequitably.

Businesses were chosen as a point of comparison for the report because they share some similarities with associations and due to the fact that they frequently occupy a place of privilege in many countries. The Special Rapporteur concludes that States would better promote and protect the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association if they elevated their treatment of associations to similar levels as their treatment of businesses.

“If a business can register as a legal entity in a few hours without significant government interference, as in Rwanda, why is the procedure significantly different for associations?” Kiai writes in the report. “A similar approach for associations would yield significant economic, social and political dividends.”

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The report provides an extensive list of examples of differential treatment from around the world, with good and bad practices cited from more than 50 UN Member States.

Kiai emphasized that the report is not about diminishing the place of businesses, but rather about elevating the treatment of civil society – a goal which benefits business as well.

“The presence of a robust and vocal civil society sector, almost without exception, guarantees that a State also possesses a good business environment,” Kiai said. “In other words, when civil society does well, business does well too.”

United Nations Maina Kiai Business General Assembly
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