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 residents who live near your business is vital for the success of your investment.
International human rights treaties
You may use the international human rights treaties to guide you when drawing up your code of conduct. The 2011 UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (PDF) is a good example. In this document, you can find agreements on the duty of the public authorities to protect human rights, the responsibility of businesess 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
Examples of human rights you should think of are:
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 CSR information on working conditions.
2. Supply chain responsibility
What impact do the activities of your business partners have on the rights of employees, local people or other stakeholders? For more information, please visit CSR information on supply chain responsibility.
3. Impact on the local community
Are local landowners receiving sufficient compensation in the case of compulsory purchase? Is your business taking care not to endanger the health and safety of local people? Does your organisation have 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? Are your products a risk to consumer health and safety?
OECD Human Rights Guidelines
If you use our subsidies and funding programmes, you must follow the OECD Guidelines. For more information, see the OECD Human Rights Guidelines and our information page on the OECD Guidelines.
Tools and links
Use one of the following tools to write a code of conduct for your business:
- Human rights impact assessment and guidance toolbox. Which human rights issues should your business take into account? This toolbox gives you insights into these issues.
- Doing Business with Respect for Human Rights – a guidance tool for companies (PDF). A manual with practical tools, advice, insights and experiences relating to business and human rights. It also gives information on implementing the UN Guiding Principles. Shift, Oxfam and the UN Global Compact produced the manual with support from the Dutch government.
If you need further assistance in drawing up your code of conduct, feel free to contact us.
- Ministry of Foreign Affairs