Business increasingly recognises the importance of human rights. Over 5,000 companies across 130 countries are signatories to the UN Global Compact and have committed themselves to the Global Compact’s ten principles, including six that address human rights and labour standards. A 2006 survey of Global Fortune 500 companies found that nine out of ten companies responding to the survey reported having human rights principles or management practices in place. More than half of the FTSE 100 listed companies have adopted a human rights policy. Meanwhile, the process of clarifying and operationalising business and human rights is being led by the United Nations Secretary General’s Special Representative on Business and Human Rights (the Special Representative).
The purpose of this publication is to explain universally recognised human rights in a way that makes sense to business. The publication also aims to illustrate, through the use of case studies and actions, how human rights are relevant in a corporate context and how human rights issues can be managed.