Definition of the Topic
Human Rights concerns the respectful treatment of all individuals, regardless of any of their personal characteristics, just because they are human beings. They determine how your company interacts with mankind and society as a whole. This makes it probably the most abstract topic, as well as the most internationally diverse. Human Rights prevail over laws and cultural traditions and are basic rights for every human being.
What does it include?
It starts with due diligence, which means that you find out about, and identify, human rights impacts related to your business activities. Once identified, you can take the following actions:
- protect yourself and consider impacts in human rights risk situations;
- avoid complicity;
- resolve grievances;
- help vulnerable groups;
- work against discrimination;
- respect economic, social and cultural rights and improve access to essential services;
- respect civil and political rights, like freedom of association and opinion, due process and fair hearing.
Although most of these issues are quite common and well respected in most countries, you would be wise to be aware of them and define how you comply with the issues. Even better, try to come up with ways to have a positive impact and always take the local situation into account.
The most fundamental benefit is that respecting human rights ensures every person is treated in a way we all consider important. If you do not act upon this, stakeholders could urge you to play a more active role in respecting human rights. Within its sphere of influence your organisation can urge stakeholders to respect human rights or to take action to make sure human rights are respected. You could also partner with suppliers, clients or other organisations to take joint action.
See some best practices for pragmatic examples.