Article 1 of the United Nation’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights reads, “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood”.
In this context, the concerns of human rights abuses happening today are innumerable. Abuses include child labour, forced labour, bonded labour and a range of abuses inflicted on vulnerable and marginalised groups that can collectively be considered as modern day slavery.
One of the biggest challenges for businesses committed to running their organisations in a responsible way is that many human rights violations happen deep down supply chains. They are found in agriculture, fishing, mining and other primary industries where single companies have limited control over their supply chains.
“The abuses happening in primary industries make it difficult for businesses to use traditional auditing techniques to deal with the risks.” says Richard Welford, Chairman of CSR Asia “The challenges are nevertheless serious and have a clear reputational and brand impact for brands if they are discovered by stakeholders and exposed in the media.”
Through a series of interviews with CSR Asia’s Strategic Partners and a range of other stakeholders, this new report by CSR Asia outlines the issues that face businesses, the opportunities for responsible business practices and some of the barriers to addressing human rights.
The paper offers ten recommendations for how businesses can work with other stakeholders to reduce the risk of human rights abuses and reduce the likelihood of modern day slavery within their value chains. It demonstrates that through engagement with contemporary human rights issues and working towards inclusive business solutions companies can not only reduce risks but also increase the competitiveness of their value chains.
“Cooperation with other businesses and stakeholders is a vital part of the solution.” says Richard Welford. “Few companies have the resources, knowledge and expertise to address all the human rights challenges they face alone.”
The research conducted for this paper demonstrates that whilst some leading companies are working on addressing human rights concerns, many are still not. Yet stakeholders (including consumers and investors) are increasingly concerned about issues such as modern day slavery, and want to see the private sector addressing those issues along value chains.
This report argues that there is a business case for being more involved in addressing human rights issues and removing modern day slavery from value chains. But even in the absence of such a business case we should all be committed to treating other people in a manner to which we would want to be treated ourselves. It is simply the right thing to do.
The full report is available at www.csr-asia.com/publications.php
The paper, written by CSR Asia is part of a partnership with Oxfam on inclusive business value chains.
CSR Asia is a leading provider of advisory, research and training services on sustainable business practices in Asia. For more information visit: www.csr-asia.com
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