Complex markets: Colombia

Atlas Copco Colombia was established in 1986 and has offices, warehouses and service facilities in the major cities.

Columbia Magdalena city - Lake view

Issues rasied: In 2013, conflict and disputes regarding land rights grew around the construction of the Hidroituango dam in Colombia.  Atlas Copco has sold products to the consortium that is responsible for constructing the dam.  For more information about the human rights issues, please visit Amnesty International’s site Follow-up:  Atlas Copco was made aware of the human rights issues surrounding the construction of the Hidroituango dam and has investigated the issue. The Group has conducted training and due-diligence activities, which have been reported in the Annual report. Atlas Copco will continue to act according to the recommendations of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights through collaborations with NGOs, industry peers and Swedish governmental representatives.

Background information

Colombia, officially the Republic of Colombia (Spanish: República de Colombia), is a country on the northwestern coast of South America. It is a parliamentary democracy, has been a member of the United Nations since 5 November 1945, and is party to a variety of international agreements concerning human rights. It also has a series of domestic laws concerning the protection of human rights.  However, Colombia’s human rights record often contradicts directly with the laws and agreements to which it is bound. (Wikipedia 2014). Learn more about the UN Guiding Principles for Business and Human Rights

What the UN Guiding Principle says:

  • UN Guiding Principle 5: States should exercise adequate oversight in order to meet their international human rights obligations when the contract with business enterprises to provide services that may impact upon the enjoyment of human rights  The Hidroituango hydropower project is government initiated, therefore the State must ensure that human rights are protected.
  • UN Guiding Principle 7, Commentary:In conflict-affected areas, the “host” State may be unable to protect human rights adequately due to a lack of effective control. Where transnational corporations are involved, their “home” States therefore have roles to play in assisting both those corporations and host States to ensure that businesses are not involved with human rights abuse, while neighboring States can provide important additional support. When a State cannot address or enforce its human rights commitments in such projects, home governments must step into support human rights.
  • UN Guiding Principle 19: Business enterprises should integrate the findings of human rights impacts and take appropriate action. Appropriate action will vary according to whether the business enterprise causes or contributes to an adverse impact, or whether it is involved solely because the impact is directly linked to its operations, products or services by a business relationship;the extent of its leverage in addressing the adverse impact. Companies involved in the projects also have a responsibility to work through their business practices and relations.