Business dragging its feet on human rights worldwide

October 17, 2018 Business , HUMAN RIGHTS , News , OPINION/NEWS , OTHER

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Too many companies globally are ignoring their human rights responsibilities and governments are failing to regulate and lead by example in business practices, a group of independent UN experts says.


report by the experts urges business to exercise ‘human rights due diligence’ to comply with the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and recommends ways states – in their roles as regulators as well as owners, investors, trade promoters and buyers – and investors should fix shortcomings.


“Human rights due diligence is about preventing negative impacts on people,” said Dante Pesce, who chairs the Working Group on Business and Human Rights. “Basically it involves identifying risks to people across the value chain, being transparent about those risks and taking action to prevent or remedy them. To be meaningful it needs to be informed by real stakeholder engagement, in particular with communities, human rights and environmental defenders and trade unions.”


“Making progress in tackling adverse business-related impacts on people’s rights and dignity is a critical and urgent issue,” Mr. Pesce said. “In fact, ensuring that human rights are respected across their own activities and value chains, is the most significant contribution most companies can make towards sustainable development.”


The group’s report, presented to the United Nations General Assembly today, found that more investors were scrutinising and pressuring companies to manage human rights risks and prevent abuses, but also that more investors should join the trend.


The report revealed a few companies in various industries are leading the way, but most businesses seem unaware of their human rights responsibility or unwilling to implement human rights due diligence. On government performance, the expert group found a few promising legal and policy developments, but also that more action is needed.


“In spite of an overall picture of slow progress, the good news is that human rights due diligence can be done,” Mr. Pesce said. “Numerous tools and resources are available and business enterprises can no longer cite a lack of knowledge as an excuse for inaction. They just need to get started, and investors and governments should push them along. Evidence is clearly suggesting that doing the right thing is also the smart thing to do.”






The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) represents the world’s commitment to universal ideals of human dignity. We have a unique mandate from the international community to promote and protect all human rights.

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