UN Draft Resolution on Business and Human Rights

UN Draft Resolution on Business and Human Rights

Business has enormous impact on people in the course of doing business. Primarily business propel the wheel of economy and create job opportunity. At the same, it has obligation for employees’ health and safety, product safety and data privacy etc. Human rights may be violated by businesses in course of their activities.

Business has enormous impact on people in the course of doing business. Primarily business propel the wheel of economy and create job opportunity. At the same, it has obligation for employees’ health and safety, product safety and data privacy etc. Human rights may be violated by businesses in course of their activities.

The activities of all types of businesses –large and small, domestic and international, public and private– in all sectors can implicate human rights. MNEs create a vast network of offices, branches, contractors, and manufacturing plants and these unites are sometime work independently. The globalization has created opportunity of cross boarder business and emerges Multinational National Enterprises (MNEs) and possible violation goes beyond the national borders.

Further, businesses that market products to the consumersthroughout the world, there can be risks in the value chain such as the abuse of the consumer’s right to privacy or data protection.

In the extractives and industrial manufacturing sectors, the risks are seen as mostly on site and in local communities. Worker safety, the use of security personnel to protect company assets, land acquisition, environmental damage and the rights of indigenous people are particular concerns in these sectors. Coalmines and textile mills in Bangladesh are under constant supervision of the authority and civil society. The movement against water and air polluting industries are constant watch of all stakeholders.

For companies in the bank and finance sector, the risks lie predominantly ‘downstream’ with the organizations to whom the organization lends or invests in.

This is where financial institutions have the greatest opportunity to positively influence human rights practices, namely through their client due diligence processes, lending terms and conditions and investment decisions.

The risk and responsibility of business is enormous. The negligent business have no alternate to shoulder the Legal costs, damage to reputation and relationships, and a loss of revenue and social license-to-operate are among the many risks that companies face from human rights issues. Identifying, assessing and managing these risks is therefore a critical part of a company’s approach to human rights.

Other risks such as brand damage, loss of reputation and interruptions to production – all of which can impact on prices of share. Companies tend not to calculate the potential financial impacts. Therefore the perspectives on human rights risk: risks to people and risks to the business.Quantifying the potential financial impact of human rights risks can be complex, but is achievable.

As for example, some of the western consumers and buyers declined to buy garments made in Bangladesh after incidence of Rana Plaza and Tazrin Garment. USA had withdrawn GSP facilities on certain export products for their market.

UN was active on business and human right issue. The 2011 UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rightshas been unanimously adapted by Human Rights Council, which formalized the responsibility of businesses to respect human rights. These Guiding Principles are grounded in recognition of: (a) States’ existing obligations to respect, protect and fulfil human rights and fundamental freedoms; (b) The role of business enterprises as specialized organs of society performing specialized functions, required to comply with all applicable laws and to respect human rights; (c) The need for rights and obligations to be matched to appropriate and effective remedies when breached.

These Guiding Principles apply to all States and to all business enterprises, both transnational and others, regardless of their size, sector, location, ownership and structure. Since then, pressure has increased on companies to identify and address human rights issues across their businesses.

The UN Guiding Principles encourage companies to consider risks to the rights of people touched by the operations and activities of a company. They could be direct company employees, contracted service providers, workers in farms or factories in the supply chain, people living in local communities where companies operate or even the users of the company’s products or services.

The language of corporate responsibility around human rights today focuses first on risks to people rather than risks to the business. With the introduction of the UN Guiding Principles, a worldwide awareness both of the risks that corporate activity brings to people, and of the resulting risks to business. Legal actions against businesses over human rights issues are increasing worldwide.

The national Laws and rules related to similar field prompted the enterprises to address human rights issues and report on their activities. Business enterprises are subject to stick trade union and human right laws, Environment laws and watch of the society over corporate social responsibilities.

Other stakeholders particularly customers increasingly expect their suppliers to comply with human rights policies and demonstrate how they are proactively addressing human rights issues. Good human rights performance is seen as an opportunity to gain competitive advantage and strengthen relationships with key customers. The European Union have categorically informed Bangladesh that Bangladesh should improve working condition and amend certain laws to improve labour and human rights. Otherwise, Bangladesh may not get GSP+ benefits after LDC graduation.

Companies are concerned of bad publicity over human rights issues would seriously damage the company’s relationship with existing employees and discourage potential employees from joining.

The other activists such as NGOs are increasingly scrutinise and Champaign for human rights. Media is also promote human right against any violation of human rights, particularly for consumer-facing companies that are arguably most exposed to brand damage and loss of market share.

Even, business-to-business companies also loss image due to negative attention can damage critical relationships with workforces and local communities. Labor and trade unions are increasing their attention on human rights issues and on labor rights in particular.

The global value chain has cross countries suppliers and concerned of violation of human rights by the suppliers and liability also goes to ultimate MNEs in country of final destination.

These companies get long-term benefits from helping their suppliers to improve their workplace and labor standards, such as improved communication and cooperation on innovation.

Moreover, there are some existing guidelines available to help companies report on their human rights performance: (1) The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) Sustainability Reporting Standards, for instance, encourage organizations to report on human rights processes implemented, incidents of human rights violations and impact on stakeholders, (2) The UN Guiding Principles Reporting Framework, 2015, sets out a series of questions to guide companies in their approach to reporting against the UN Guiding Principles.

After the Rana Plaza incidence, western buyers under the banner of Accord and Alliance came forward and organized the inspection, identified the risk of building, electrical installation, working condition etc of all garments industries and improved the infrastructure at the cost of entrepreneurs of Bangladesh. The modification and improvement of infrastructure was possible due to organized efforts of western buyers and consumers but not due to action of the government or civil society.

The draft UN resolution on human rights seems additional and overlapping with national law. Individual country and society have their own culture and standard. UN may promote the GRI Sustainable reporting standard and UN guideline principles reporting framework 2015 to regulate the business under close watch of government and civil society. After the national governments have certain responsibility to protect human rights and accelerating economic development.

All the stakeholders, consumers, associate business, government and civil society may join together to raise the voice against violation of human rights by business enterprises.Above all, we need a balance between the human rights and economic development.

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