ANNEX 3: INTERNATIONAL INITIATIVES
1. A number of our submissions referred to a range
of international voluntary and multi-stakeholder initiatives on
business and human rights. We address the OECD Guidelines and
the work of the UN Special Representative in Chapter 4. In this
Annex, we summarize the characteristics of a number of these initiatives
and provide references to some of the evidence we received.
The UN Global Compact
2. The UN Global Compact is a strategic policy initiative
for businesses that are committed to aligning their operations
and strategies with ten universally accepted principles in the
areas of human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption.
By doing so, member businesses aim to help ensure that "markets,
commerce, technology and finance advance in ways that benefit
economies and societies everywhere". The UN Global Compact
has two objectives:
- Mainstream the ten principles in business activities
around the world
- Catalyze actions in support of broader UN goals,
including the Millennium Development Goals.
3. The Ten UN Global Compact Principles include:
- Businesses should support and respect the protection
of internationally proclaimed human rights; and make sure that
they are not complicit in human rights abuses.
- Businesses should uphold the freedom of association
and the effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining;
the elimination of all forms of forced and compulsory labour;
the effective abolition of child labour; and the elimination of
discrimination in respect of employment and occupation.
- Businesses should support a precautionary approach
to environmental challenges; undertake initiatives to promote
greater environmental responsibility; and encourage the development
and diffusion of environmentally friendly technologies.
- Businesses should work against corruption in
all its forms, including extortion and bribery.
4. The Global Compact, today stands as the largest
corporate citizenship and sustainability initiative in the world.
It has 6,500 signatories - 5,000 from business and 1,500 form
civil society and other non-business organizations - based in
over 135 countries. In 2008, the Global Compact welcomed 1,473
business participants - a 30% increase in new corporate signatories
compared to the previous year.
There are Global Compact Local Networks in over 80 countries.
Their role is to support companies in their efforts to implement
the Global Compact (both local firms and subsidiaries of foreign
corporations), while also creating opportunities for further engagement
and collective action.
5. A number of witnesses to our inquiry referred
to the UN Global Compact as an example of an initiative supported
by UK businesses.
Professor David Kinley, for example, told us that it provided
an important "model code" but was only one of many initiatives
to which business could subscribe.
Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights
6. The Voluntary Principles on Security and Human
Rights (VSPs) are a set of non-binding principles which were developed
to guide extractives companies in maintaining the safety and security
of their operations within an operating framework that ensures
respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms.
The main goal of the VSPs is to provide guidance for companies
on identifying human rights and security risk, as well as engaging
and collaborating with state and private security forces.
7. The VSPs address three main areas: risk assessment,
interactions between companies and public security, and interactions
between companies and private security. The provide human rights
guidelines designed specifically for oil, gas, and mining companies,
sectors that are particularly exposed to fundamental human rights
risks and involved in controversies.
8. The VSPs were developed in 2000 and involve the
governments of the United States, the United Kingdom, the
Netherlands and Norway, companies in the extractive and energy
sectors and non-governmental organizations (Amnesty International,
International Alert, Oxfam), observers (International Committee
of the Red Cross, International Council on Mining & Metals,
International Petroleum Industry Environmental), all with an interest
in human rights and corporate social responsibility. The VSPs
aim to help businesses to:
- Conduct a comprehensive assessment of human rights
risks associated with security, with a particular focus on complicity.
- Engage appropriately with public and private
security in conflict prone areas.
- Institute proactive human rights screenings of
and trainings for public and private security forces.
- Ensure that the use of force is proportional
- Develop systems for reporting and investigating
allegations of human rights abuses.
9. Prospective participantsincluding governments,
companies, and NGOsagree to proactively implement or assist
in the implementation of the VPs and to fulfill the roles and
responsibilities described in the participation criteria. A
considerable number of UK based companies support the international
standards and initiatives that address the link between business
and human rights including the Voluntary Principles on Security
and Human Rights.
10. War on Want told us that the VSPs had limited
Many voluntary initiatives were found not to
be embedded in the operations of corporations in a meaningful
way. For example, regarding the Voluntary Principles on Security
and Human Rights
only a few companies had attempted to integrate
these principles into their operations let alone include them
in contracts with suppliers.
Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative
11. The Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative
(EITI) is a global standard which aims to strengthen and improve
transparency and accountability in the extractives sector.
It is formed by a coalition of governments, companies, civil
society groups, investors and international organisations. The
EITI provides a methodology for monitoring and reconciling company
payments and government revenues at the country level to increase
transparency. The EITI Board and the International Secretariat
support the EITI methodology internationally. Implementation is
the responsibility of individual countries. The EITI Board consists
of members from governments, companies and civil society. Its
current governance structure was formalised at the latest EITI
Global Conference in Doha, February 2009.
12. EITI aims to build governance capacity, improve
international credibility, and affirm that participant Governments
are committed to fighting corruption. Implementation of the EITI
also aims to enhance local investment climates for participant
companies. Energy security may be enhanced by a more transparent
and level playing field.
13. A number of our witnesses referred to the EITI,
including the role played by the UK Government in its establishment.
Others told us that its operation made a valuable contribution
to the business and human rights debate. For example, Steve Westwell,
for BP said:
We are now making significant headway and getting
all the interested parties, government, business, NGOs, to participate
in a process which is increasing the transparency involved in
business. It takes time, it is not easy, but we are definitely
seeing good progress in the EITI through a voluntary process"
14. Some of the individuals and organisations we
met during our visit to the US told us that it was important that
participant Governments, including the UK maintained their support
for the EITI and other initiatives after their early years.
Ethical Trading Initiative
15. The Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI) is an alliance
of companies, NGOs and trades union organisations.
It exists to promote and improve the implementation of corporate
codes of practice which cover supply chain working conditions.
ETI was set up in 1998 by a group of UK companies, NGOs and trade
union organisations, with the backing of the then Secretary of
State for International Development, Clare Short MP. Original
member companies of ETI included ASDA, Premier Brands, The Body
Shop, Littlewoods and Sainsbury's. Membership of ETI now comprises
over 50 companies with leverage over more than 38,000 suppliers,
collectively covering in excess of eight million workers
across the globe. The ETI is supported by a number of UK Government
departments, but DFID take the lead .
16. Underpinning its work is the ETI Base Code
and the accompanying Principles of Implementation,
both of which were negotiated and agreed by the founding trades
union, NGO and corporate members of ETI. The Base Code contains
nine clauses which reflect the most relevant international standards
with respect to labour practices (ILO Conventions):
- Employment is freely chosen
- Freedom of association and the right to collective
bargaining are respected
- Working conditions are safe and hygienic
- Child labour shall not be used
- Living wages are paid
- Working hours are not excessive
- No discrimination is practised
- Regular employment is provided
- No harsh or inhumane treatment is allowed
17. The Principles of Implementation set out general
principles governing the implementation of the Base Code and
require companies to:
- demonstrate a clear commitment to ethical trade;
- integrate ethical trade into their core business
- drive year-on-year improvements to working conditions;
- support suppliers to improve working conditions,
for example through advice and training;
- report openly and accurately about their activities.
18. ETI members are expected to adopt either the
Base Code or their own code, which in the case of UK is the Global
Sourcing Principles. These should be accompanied by guidelines
for implementing the code, and a structure to support the ETI's
philosophy of learning.
19. We heard evidence from Tesco and Associated British
Foods, the parent company of retailer, Primark, both members of
the ETI (Tesco was a founding member of the ETI and Primark signed
up in 2006). Tesco told us:
We only work with suppliers who share our values
and demonstrate commitment to the ETI Base Code.
20. Associated British Foods said:
Primark attaches huge importance to its relationship
with the ETI, of which we are active members
Like the ETI,
and many others in the industry, we recognise that the only way
to successfully ensure that supply chans are ethical, and that
standards continue to improve, is through collective action from
21. A number of other witnesses referred to the role
played by ETI.
22. The Kimberley Process is a joint government,
industry and civil society initiative to stem the flow of conflict
diamonds (rough diamonds used by rebel movements to finance violence).
The scheme was initiated following decades of devastating conflicts
in countries such as Angola, Cote d'Ivoire, the Democratic Republic
of the Congo and Sierra Leone, where conflict was financed by
illicit trade in diamonds.
23. The Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS)
imposes extensive requirements on its members to enable them to
certify shipments of rough diamonds as 'conflict-free'. The
KP is open to all countries that are willing and able to implement
its requirements. As of November 2008, the KP has 49 members,
representing 75 countries, with the European Community and its
Member states counting as an individual participant. KP members
account for approximately 99.8% of the global production of rough
diamonds. The World Diamond Council, representing the international
diamond industry, and civil society organisations are participating
in the KP and have played a major role since its outset.
24. The Government told us that it adopts a leadership
position across the Kimberley Process on Diamonds, the EITI and
The Business Leaders Initiative on Human Rights
25. The Business Leaders Initiative on Human Rights
(BLIHR) was a business-led programme to help develop the corporate
response to human rights. Its purpose was to demonstrate how the
Universal Declaration of Human Rights could be integrated into
business management across a range of geographical areas, political
contexts and business functions.
The programme was created in March 2003 and ended in March 2009.
It had 14 corporate members and was chaired by Mary Robinson,
President of Realizing Rights: The Ethical Globalization Initiative,
former President of Ireland and former UN High Commissioner for
Human Rights. The Initiative was founded by 7 companies: ABB Ltd,
Barclays Plc, MTV Networks Europe, National Grid Plc, Novartis
Foundation for Sustainable Development, Novo Nordisk and The Body
Shop International Plc.
26. BLIHR gained recognition for its expertise in
the area of business and human rights, having collaborated with
other international organizations and companies including the
International Business Leaders Forum (IBLF).
BLIHR worked with the Kennedy School at Harvard University and
the Institute for Human Rights and Business to generate
a diverse range of business case-studies which reflect links between
human rights, development and business growth and opportunities
in emerging economies.
27. In developing tools and policy views in the area
of business and human rights, BLIHR "aimed to support a reduction
in human rights abuses by corporations, the development of a level
playing field and ultimately a way of doing business that is socially
sustainable for everyone".
28. In June 2009 BLIHR was replaced by the Global
Business Initiative on Human Rights. This is a "global-led
business project committed to advancing human rights around the
world". The initiative provides a platform for companies
from different sectors to "show leadership". It aims
to provide "a supportive environment in which to learn about
how to respect and support human rights and integrate them into
the management of their business". The strategic goals of
this initiative are:
- To raise awareness of human rights, the business
case for respecting rights and the practical steps companies can
take to integrate a respect for human rights into their business;
- To support and share concrete, practical examples
of companies respecting human rights in a variety of industries
and locations around the world (e.g. developing policies, processes,
procedures and initiatives); and
- To be a leading global business voice on the
realities, challenges and opportunities for incorporating human
rights into responsible business and sustainable development and
so inform national, regional and international policy dialogues.
- The Global Business Initiative on Human Rights
works in partnership with the United Nations Global Compact and
the Swiss Government.
Institute for Human Rights and Business
29. The Institute for Human Rights and Business (IBHR)
is a global centre of excellence and expertise on the relationship
between business and internationally proclaimed human rights standards.
The Institute works to raise corporate standards and strengthen
public policy to ensure that the activities of companies do not
contribute to human rights abuses, and in fact lead to positive
outcomes. It supports
the 'protect, respect and remedy' framework developed by the Special
Representative and believes that the current international financial
and economic environment has strengthened the need for "a
common framework of universal social values, good governance and
accountability in relation to business activity".
30. IBHR was created in January 2009 after a year
of global consultation. It aims to bring together expertise from
business, government and civil society. The Institute is registered
in the UK but has a global remit. It is also chaired by Mary
Robinson. DFID contributed seed funding.
386 http://www.unglobalcompact.org/ Back
From United Nations Global Compact Annual Review 2008. Available
at: http://www.unglobalcompact.org/docs/news_events/9.1_news_archives/2009_04_08/GC_2008AR_FINAL.pdf Back
See for example, Ev 89, Ev 98, Ev 125, Ev 129 Back
Ev 147 Back
Ev 125 Back
Ev 227 Back
Ev 165 Back
See for example, Q124 Back
Q 124 Back
.The House of Commons Committee on International Development commented
on the operation of the Ethical Trading Initiative in its report
Fair Trade and Development, Seventh Report of Session 2006-07,
HC 356.See Government Response, Eighth Special Report of 2006-07. Back
See for example, Q440, Ev 172. Back
Ev 351 Back
Ev 327 Back
See for example, Ev 172, Ev 191, Ev 211 - 212 Back
Q 360. Back
Ev 268 Back
Ev 214 Back
Ev 268 Back
Ev 270, p.1 Back
Ev 270, p.1 Back
Ev 85 Back