Human rights & Business ethics news stories – CCB 102
A round up of news from October and November regarding human rights and business ethics
Realizing Rights: a call for better corporate reporting on human rights
Marking sixty years since the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, three leading organizations are launching a new initiative to foster greater integration of human rights principles into corporate reporting. The project – Human Rights: A Call to Action – is co-led by Realizing Rights: The Ethical Globalization Initiative, The Global Reporting Initiative, developers of the world’s most widely used sustainability reporting framework; and the United Nations Global Compact the world’s largest global corporate citizenship initiative.
Companies are being called to make a commitment to measuring and publicly reporting on human rights as a business issue.
The project aims to improve understanding of corporate human rights performance disclosure and explore methods to better embed this knowledge into global reporting standards.
Global Reporting Initiative
Covalence Ethical Ranking Q3 2008
On October 23 Geneva-based Covalence, the ethical reputation tracking organisation, published its quarterly ethical reputation ranking, outlining the best ranked companies as well as those companies which have made the most progress in the 3rd quarter of 2008. Criteria gaining weight within positive news in Q3 2008 have been product environmental risk, waste management, labour standards and eco innovative product. Within negative news criteria gaining weight were downsizing, waste management, labour standards, and external working conditions.
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Nestlé tries to close down critics’ website just days before Nestlé-Free Week
Campaign group, Baby Milk Action, has refused to transfer a domain name to Nestlé as demanded by lawyers acting for the world’s largest food company. A deadline of September 29 was given by lawyers last week. The site, which gives an overview of concerns about Nestlé business activities and serves as a portal for further information from expert analysts, is to be launched on October 4, the start of this year’s International Nestlé-Free Week and the 20th anniversary of the launch of a boycott of Nestlé over its marketing of baby milk. The site has the theme: “Nestlé’s actions speak louder than its words” and commentators provide analysis of various aspects of Nestlé’s business including baby milk marketing, treatment of workers, labour practices in its cocoa supply chain and use of water resources.
Private sector representatives vow to help fight the sexual exploitation of children
On September 25 and 26, representatives from around the world met in Winnipeg, Canada to discuss the role of private sector social initiatives to curb sexual exploitation of children. Participants learnt about industry codes of conduct, their effective implementation and monitoring; about innovative legislation to protect children from sexual exploitation; and about the latest research on what works in the fight against child sexual exploitation. The meeting was intended to inform discussions during the World Congress III Against the Sexual Exploitation of Children to be held in Rio de Janeiro from 25-28 November 2008 and broaden the range of socially responsible partnerships among a variety of industries leading up to the event.
Diverse coalition launches new effort to respond to government censorship and threats to privacy
October 28 saw the launch of the Global Network Initiative founded upon new Principles on Freedom of Expression and Privacy – supported by specific implementation commitments and a framework for accountability and learning – that provide a systematic approach for companies, NGOs, investors, academics and others to work together in resisting efforts by governments that seek to enlist companies in acts of censorship and surveillance that violate international standards. The Initiative is the outcome of a multi-stakeholder process that began in 2006 and was formalized in early 2007. The group has closely examined issues and cases relating to freedom of expression and privacy around the world, as well as relevant international laws and standards and a number of global multi-stakeholder processes in other industries.
The Global initiative
Online portal launched profiling human rights lawsuits against companies
On October 29, the not for profit Business & Human Rights Resource Centre launched a free online portal – the first to bring together lawsuits from across the world alleging human rights abuses by companies. The portal summarises in non-legal language over 35 cases and the positions of each side, with more cases to be added soon. It also presents special commentaries by experts. Mary Robinson, former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and President of Ireland, said: “The Resource Centre’s portal is a unique tool for advocates, victims of abuses, NGOs, business people and others.”
Business and Human Rights Centre