When you are dealing with staff and external relations, your business has the responsibility to respect human rights. More and more businesses include this topic in a code of conduct. A good relationship with local residents who live in the vicinity of your business is vital for the success of your investment.
International human rights treaties
The international human rights treaties can serve as guidance when drawing up your own code of conduct. The 2011 UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (PDF) are a good example. In this document you can find agreements on the duty of the public authorities to protect human rights, the responsibility of business enterprises to respect human rights and the right of victims of human rights violations to access judicial remedy. These principles are based on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (PDF) adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1948.
Business and human rights
Several examples of human rights that you should take into account are stated below.
1. Working conditions in the company
No child labour or forced labour, no discrimination, freedom of association, occupational health and safety, and terms of employment. For more information, please visit our page concerning Working conditions.
2. Supply chain responsibility
What impact do the activities of your business partners have on the rights of employees, the local population or other stakeholders? For more information, please visit our page regarding Supply chain responsibility.
3. Impact on the local community
Are local landowners receiving sufficient compensation in case of compulsory purchase? Is your business taking care not to endanger the health and safety of the local population? Is there a complaints procedure? Is your business taking care not to endanger the right of existence of local farmers when using water? What is your position on corruption? Do your products pose a risk to consumer health and safety?
OECD Human Rights Guidelines
Tools and links
The following tools and links may also be helpful when drawing up a code of conduct for your business:
- Human Rights Compliance Assessment Quick Check (PDF). Which human rights issues should your business take into account? The HRCA provides you with insight into these issues in the form of a detailed questionnaire. A quick scan containing 10% of the questions, mainly intended for smaller businesses, is also available.
- Doing Business with Respect for Human Rights – a guidance tool for companies (PDF) A manual containing practical tools, advice, insights and experiences relating to business and human rights. It also provides information on the implementation of the UN Guiding Principles. The manual was produced by Shift, Oxfam and the UN Global Compact with support from the Dutch government.
- Social and Economic Council of the Netherlands (SER): tips and tools. Which human rights are relevant to your business and which organisations can assist you in this area?
If you need further assistance in drawing up your code of conduct, feel free to contact us.