Business and Human Rights

Topics: Human rights, Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Amnesty International Pages: 5 (1335 words) Published: February 20, 2011
Business and Human Right

Globalization has significantly changed the world we live in, presenting new and complex challenges for the protection of human rights.

Economic players, especially companies that operate across national boundaries (trans-national companies), have gained unprecedented power and influence across the world economy.

This has not always benefited the societies in which they operate.

Amnesty International's research has highlighted the negative impact companies can have on the human rights of the individuals and communities affected by their operations.

Companies cause harm by directly abusing human rights, or by colluding with others who violate human rights. Despite this potential to cause significant harm, there are few effective mechanisms at national or international level to prevent corporate human rights abuses or to hold companies to account.

This means those affected by their operations – often already marginalized and vulnerable - are left powerless, without the protection to which they are entitled, or meaningful access to justice. Global standards on business and human rights

Governments have the primary obligation to secure universal enjoyment of human rights and this includes an obligation to protect all individuals from the harmful actions of others, including companies.

However, frequently governments fail to regulate the human rights impact of business or ensure access to justice for victims of human rights abuses involving business.

Until now most companies’ engagement with human rights responsibilities has been through voluntary codes and initiatives. While some voluntary initiatives have a role to play, such voluntarism can never be a substitute for global standards on businesses' mandatory compliance with human rights.

These global standards should address the human rights responsibilities and obligations of both states and companies. As a minimum requirement, all companies should respect all human rights, regardless of the sector, country or context in which they operate. What is Amnesty International doing?

Amnesty International’s work on economic players, including trans-national companies and international financial organizations, has developed in recognition of the power and influence they exert over states and international institutions, and the impact they have on human rights.

Through research and analysis, Amnesty International aims to highlight human rights abuses in which companies are implicated and how governments fail to prevent these abuses or hold companies to account when they occur.

The organization is campaigning for global standards on business and human rights and stronger legal frameworks at both national and international level to hold companies to account for their human rights impact.

Amnesty International asks companies to promote respect for human rights, including by: •Using their influence in support of human rights,
Including a specific commitment to human rights in their statements of business principles and codes of conduct, •Producing explicit human rights policies and ensuring that they are integrated, monitored and audited across their operations and beyond borders, •Putting in place the necessary internal management systems to ensure that human rights policies are acted upon.

Amnesty International also calls on companies to make respect for human rights an integral component of their business operations, including through their dealings with other companies, partners, associates, subsidiaries, suppliers and government officials.

At the heart of Amnesty International’s concerns is the individual whose human rights may come under threat from the actions or inactions of economic players.

We strive to bring their voice to the debate in the hope that meaningful long-term solutions are firmly rooted in the real-life experience of those who fall victim to human rights abuses by...
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