International Corporate Accountability Roundtable

Plenary Panel – Day II

Closing of Civic Space: Stories from the Front Lines

Time:    10:45 AM to 12:00 PM

Room:   Ceremonial Classroom


  • Conniel Malek, True Costs Initiative (moderator)

  • Cathy Feingold, AFL-CIO

  • Dr. Yesid Blanco, Yariguies Regional Corporation

  •  Peter Micek, AccessNow

  •   Jana Morgan, International Corporate Accountability Roundtable (ICAR)

Background Information

Twenty years ago, the UN adopted a declaration on human rights defenders by consensus. As UN Secretary Antonio Guterres recognized, in commemorating the anniversary, defenders “dedicate–and sometimes sacrifice–their lives demanding respect for economic, social, cultural, civil and political rights . . . .” Defenders are trade union leaders fighting for freedom of association, collective bargaining, and decent wages; digital rights activists confronting government censorship, surveillance, and internet shutdowns; doctors trying to keep their communities safe from industrial pollution; and ordinary citizens speaking out against corporate overreach. They are all under tremendous pressure, and it threatens to become a new normal. That new normal includes government efforts to legislate restrictions, and to persecute and jail defenders, in the guise of national security. This panel explores emerging threats to human rights defenders in the labor, environmental, and digital rights movements and strategies to address those threats, including ICAR’s leadership of the Protect the Protest coalition, which works to expose and counter strategic lawsuits against public participation, or SLAPP suits.