Human Rights and Responsible Business Practices Frequently Asked Questions
The need for companies to understand and address human rights as a responsible business practice is growing. For the adidas Group this is reflected in the following key drivers. The first is the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises1 which were revised and re-issued in May 2011. The updated OECD Guidelines now include a chapter on Human Rights. The adidas Group has been a long time adherent to these voluntary guidelines, which sets out good practice for multinational companies in relation to a range of topics, including consumer interests, corruption, environment, employment and industrial relations. The OECD Guidelines have the backing of 41 countries globally, including Germany where the adidas Group is headquartered. The second driver is the work of the UN Special Representative on Business and Human Rights, Professor John Ruggie.2 After 6 years of consultations with the industry, governments and civil society, Professor Ruggie submitted his final report to the United Nations Human Rights Council on May 31, 2011.3 The report was unanimously endorsed by the Council. The UN Special Representative‟s report contains an important set of Guiding Principles, which outline how States and businesses should implement the UN Business and Human Rights Framework of “Protect, Respect and Remedy”.4 The adidas Group supports the UN Framework and has considered and incorporated key elements of the Guiding Principles into its general practice in managing the human rights impacts of its business. In particular, we have embedded human rights into our general risk management approach, which is explained in the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) below.
The OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises (hereafter OECD Guidelines) form part of the OECD Declaration on International Investment and Multinational Enterprises. The amended Guidelines were adopted by the forty-two governments adhering to the Declaration on International Investment and Multinational Enterprises on 25 May 2011. 2 Mr. John Ruggie is a Professor on Human Rights and International Affairs at Harvard University in the United States. His full designation is „Special Representative of the Secretary-General on the issue of human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises‟. 3 The adidas Group engaged closely with Professor Ruggie and his advisors, including presenting at regional stakeholder consultations hosted by the UN Special Representative in Bangkok in June 2006 and New Delhi in February 2009. 4 The UN Framework is comprised of three parts: Protect, Respect and Remedy. Under the „State Duty to Protect‟, governments get guidance on how to take more proactive ownership of their human rights responsibilities and provide stability, clarity, and consistency to citizens and businesses. The „Corporate Responsibility to Respect‟ principles provide a blueprint for companies on how to know and show that they are respecting human rights. And the „Access to Remedy‟ principles are about assurance, making sure that States and companies are held accountable.
Finally, at a trade level, we see that human rights and especially labour rights continue to feature in international trade agreements; especially those that are intended to promote or secure preferential trade status for poor or underdeveloped nations. National and State legislators in the developed world are also introducing measures to safeguard against the importation of goods from any country where there is evidence of child labour, or other forms of modern day slavery and human trafficking. A recent example is the State of California‟s Transparency in Supply Chains Act of 2010. The law requires retail sellers and manufacturers in California to disclose how they address the risks of human trafficking and slavery in their product supply chains. We are likely to see more such legislation in the...
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