Complicit in Repression

Feb 28, 2020

The UNPO is exposing how development partnerships, business deals and trade schemes make liberal democracies complicit in repression of unrepresented people. We want policy changes that will ensure an effective response to this repression.

The Problem

Trade and business have the power to transform society – for better or worse. For historically marginalized peoples around the world, the growing business synergy between developed and developing countries is only making their lives more difficult.

Excluded from national and international mechanism of decision-making, minorities and indigenous peoples find themselves once again left out from the benefits enjoyed by majority groups and political and economic elites. Not only excluded, trade and large-scale infra-structure projects add another layer of hardship to the unrepresented peoples, as their land and resources are exploited without their free, prior and informed consent.

Under repressive contexts, those who speak out are violently silenced. The state, in turn, uses the pretext to secure foreign investment and personal by militarizing these regions.  

Developed liberal democracies have the economic and political leverage to make informed decisions about their trading partners. But over the last years, questionable business and trade schemes have put the reputation as one of the world’s most powerful democracy and human rights promotors at stake.

What we are doing about it

Through research and advocacy, the UNPO is working to expose how different development partnerships, business deals and preferential trade schemes make liberal democracies, such as the European Union and its member states, complicit with states notorious for their appalling human rights records, such as China and Pakistan - and what policy changes are necessary to reverse this issue. Through training, strategic advice and mentoring, we are further empowering unrepresented peoples impacted by this complicity to engage with these states to press for policy change.