Business and human rights: challenging corporate power

By staff writers
December 10, 2012

It is not just governments and political opposition movements who are accused of violating human rights, and who need to be pressed to uphold them. The corporate world, which is increasingly dominant in a globalised society, faces major issues in this area.

The Institute for Human Rights and Business (IHRB) is one organisation seeking to explore this territory in a thoughtful and dialogical way, while numerous campaigns seek to hold particular businesses to account.

The highly respected Mary Robinson, the first woman President of Ireland (1990-1997), former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (1997-2002), and founder and President of Realizing Rights: The Ethical Globalisation Initiative (2002-2010), is one of IHRB's patrons

Some 18 months after the adoption of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, IHRB claims that significant progress has been made in integrating human rights concerns into a range of important initiatives by governments, businesses and other actors around the world.

It says: "The success of the first annual UN Forum on Business and Human Rights [from 3-5 December 2012] highlighted the growing momentum of the business and human rights movement globally. But ongoing protection gaps remain to be addressed and recent reminders of wide scale abuses of fundamental worker rights point to challenges for 2013 and beyond.

"These developments, and the results of a public consultation process, provide the frame for today's release by IHRB of our 4th annual list of Business and Human Rights issues to mark International Human Rights Day [12 December 2012]."

The IHRB has produced a video to highlights some of the key issues - see below for link.

The Institute for Human Rights and Business (IHRB) is dedicated to being a global centre of excellence and expertise on the relationship between business and internationally proclaimed human rights standards.

It declares: "We provide a trusted, impartial space for dialogue and independent analysis to deepen understanding of human rights challenges and issues and the appropriate role of business.

"We seek to address problems where the law may be unclear, where accountability and responsibility may not be well-defined, and where legitimate dispute settlement mechanisms may be non-existent or poorly-administered.

"The Institute works to raise corporate standards and strengthen public policy to ensure that the activities of companies do not contribute to human rights abuses, and in fact lead to positive outcomes."

* UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (*.PDF Adobe Acrobat document):

* Institute for Human Rights and Business:

* Video of IHRB Top 10 List of Business and Human Rights Issues 2013:

* Forum on Business and Human Rights:

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