Human Rights & International Development News Round-Up

April 08, 2008

Human Rights & International Development News Round-Up (Issue 98)

April 08 2008

by Briefing staff

February and March 2008 round-up of Human Rights & International Deveopment news


Business and human rights

Many people globally are harmed by businesses that fail to respect human rights according to a new report from Human Rights Watch and the Center for Human Rights and Global Justice at New York University School of Law.

On the Margins of Profit: Rights at Risk in the Global Economy, which was published in February, calls for global standards to ensure that corporate conduct respects international human rights law. The report illustrates how everyday business decisions can have implications for the human rights of workers, local communities, suppliers and consumers. Its main findings were:

* Any kind of business can be implicated in these abuses, not only those in the clothing and extractive industries. For example, bars and clubs in several southern African countries discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation.
* Companies can impact not only on labour rights but also cultural and land rights as well as others.
* Companies can be implicated in abuses indirectly through third party involvement, such as purchasing gold from areas situated in conflict zones such as the Democratic Republic of Congo.
* Governments share responsibility through neglecting to adopt and enforce laws that protect people from abuse by companies.
* Victims of abuse perpetuated by businesses are often unable to obtain meaningful redress.

The report concludes by calling on governments to work together to develop clear standards governing business conduct and to ensure national authorities adequately regulate companies and hold those responsible to account. It suggests a UN declaration or another international instrument agreed by governments that would define global standards for business conduct as well as clarify the role of governments and provide access to justice for those affected by misconduct.

Contact Human Rights Watch 001 212 290 4700; Center for Human Rights and Global Justice 001 212 998 6714

Shared Goals Through Sport

Sport can bring about social change according to a new report from the IBLF. Shared Goals Through Sport, published on February 27, is certified by Nike, Standard Chartered and UK Sport, the government initiative, and is aimed at companies, governments and civil society organisations.

The report found that virtually no guidance is currently available on how companies might harness sport in order to meet development goals, yet at the same time found that such partnerships could help achieve social investment objectives. Other benefits mentioned include improved confidence and self esteem in communities, whilst motivating employees and helping to access new markets. The IBLF recommends that companies, governments and NGOs accelerate and improve private sector engagement in sport for development initiatives.

Contact IBLF 020 7467 3600

WBCSD joins Energy Poverty Action

The World Business Council for Sustainable Development has joined the Energy Poverty Action initiative – a group that aims to support the sustainable supply of energy in areas suffering from little or no access to energy supplies. Other members of the EPA include the World Economic Forum, World Energy Council, British Columbia Hydro in Canada and Eskom.

Members aim to pool their business expertise and best practice knowledge in order to develop pioneering and scalable projects, which can be copied and used in other areas that suffer from energy shortages. The network emphasises the need for such projects to be managed and carried out by the local user groups, thus empowering and maintaining independence.

Contact WBCSD 00 41 22 839 31 25

Remember the girls

A report – Hit or Miss? Women’s rights and the Millennium Development Goals – published by the charity ActionAid on March 7 asserts that the disproportionate impact of poverty on girls and women is not an accident, but the result of systematic discrimination. The charity believes that part of the failure to reach targets set by the MDGs is because of the failure of the international community to understand major gender inequalities. The publication reports that 75% of young people suffering from HIV/AIDS in Africa are women and that two thirds of the world’s illiterate people are women. The report concludes that gender inequality must be put at the heart of the development agenda if targets are to be met. This includes addressing the obstacles to girls’ school attendance, such as collecting water.

Contact Action Aid 01460 238 000

Gender pay gap stuck at 16% worldwide

The income of women across the world, in developing as well as developed countries, is still significantly less than men despite decades of anti-discrimination law according to a new report. The Global Gender Pay Gap report, published on March 6 by the International Trade Union Confederation, further found that the inequalities in pay are often greater among the better educated classes.

The ITUC, a global federation of unions, has launched a campaign to address the issue – Decent Work, Decent Life for Women – as a result of the survey and also pointed out that a clearer picture of the issue may still be unavailable due to a lack of data from the informal working sector.

Contact ITUC 0032 2 224 0211

Goldman Sachs launches 10,000 Women

Goldman Sachs, the investment bank, is to provide 10,000 women in developing and emerging markets with business and management education. The announcement was made on March 5 and will involve the investment of $100m in a five-year global initiative to promote business skills development among women.

The initiative – 10,000 Women – will see Goldman Sachs partnering with universities and business schools across the world. Initially, these partnerships will support practical, flexible and shorter programmes, resulting in certificates and qualifications, which will open doors for the women involved. As well as a financial contribution from the company, Goldman employees will contribute their time and experience in the class room and via mentoring programmes. Time and money will also be spent working with development organisations to understand the challenges girls and women face in order to realise their economic potential.

Prior to the launch of 10,000 Women, Goldman Sachs released a research report titled Women Hold Up Half the Sky, which established that the education of women is an important and under-used factor for economic growth in developing countries.

Contact Goldman Sachs