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Ten Things Executives Need to Know (and Do) About Human Rights

An expanded version of this post, “UN Human Rights Framework: What executives need to know and do about human rights, Part I and Part II”  appears on the website of Ethical Corporation (UK).

Human rights have been a concern for some companies since the anti-Apartheid divestment campaigns of the 1980s, but there has been no broad-based uptake of human rights as a business discipline. Relatively few companies have human rights in their corporate vocabulary.

This may be the year human rights go mainstream, thanks, largely, to the work of John Ruggie, serving for the past six years as the UN Secretary General’s Special Representative on Business and Human Rights.

Ruggie has forged a working consensus among companies, governments and advocates that human rights are not just a business concern, but that both governments and companies have human rights responsibilities. The Ruggie, or UN, Framework – “Protect, Respect and Remedy” – asserts that governments must protect against abuses by companies; companies must respect human rights; and victims must have access to remedies.

“Protect, respect and remedy” is a phrase that many executives will hear and be asked to explain over the next twelve months. This Spring, the UN Human Rights Council is expected to endorse Guiding Principles for both governments and companies to meet their responsibilities under the Framework. For the first time, companies have a clear roadmap for making human rights part of their compliance and corporate responsibility efforts. If you are, or advise, one of those executives, there are ten things you need to know (and do) about human rights: Read more