Any of our business? Human Rights and the UK private sector - Human Rights Joint Committee Contents



  Vigeo Group is a European leading supplier of extra-financial analysis. The Group measures the degree to which the companies take into account—in the definition and deployment of their strategies—corporate social responsibility objectives. Vigeo's reference model is based on criteria drawing together international objectives for social responsibility. These criteria are divided into six fields: Human Rights, Human Resources, Environment, Business Behaviour, Corporate Governance and Community Involvement. In this paper we only consider findings analysed under the Human Rights Domain, focusing in particular on two criteria: Fundamental Human Rights, and Freedom of Association and the Right to Collective Bargaining (Labour Rights). Each criterion is correlated to international texts of reference.ix

  Like all other Vigeo criteria, the human rights criteria are analysed through the Leadership, Implementation and Results (LIR) approach:

    — Leadership (L) relates to the formalisation of commitments towards the promotion of human rights in terms of visibility, relevance and ownership.

    — Implementation (I) focuses on the relevance of the implementation measures used to achieve or respect the company's commitment: monitoring of the respect of human rights, risk assessments, and the promotion and coverage of the implementation tools.

    — Results (R) are linked to the efficiency of the system which is measured by the occurrence and management of allegations and/or controversies.

  For Vigeo, a company's CSR performance is also an indication of the way it manages its legal, human capital, operational and reputational risks. The weight Vigeo gives to each risk class to asses a company depends on the nature of stakeholders' rights, interests and expectations and the stakeholders' exposure. For the domain of human rights, the reputational risks (brand recognition; allegations; controversies; social acceptability; attracting new skills; licence to operate) and legal risks (litigations; trials; legal proceedings; fines) are of utter importance.


April 2009




iii  "Freedom of Association and the Right to Collective Bargaining: Analysis of Vigeo's Universe of European companies", Vigeo, February 2009

iv  German, Swedish, Finnish, Italian, French, Belgian, Swiss and Spanish companies have also faced labour rights controversies during the last three years. Controversies that occurred in the "Western" world mostly concerned Anglo-Saxon countries such as the USA, the UK and Australia.


vi  Amnesty International Report 2008:

The UK continued to attempt to return individuals to states where they would face a real risk of grave human rights violations on the strength of unenforceable "diplomatic assurances". Secrecy in the implementation of counter-terrorism measures led to unfair judicial proceedings. There were continued failures of accountability for past violations, including in relation to alleged state collusion in killings in Northern Ireland. The government sought to limit the extraterritorial application of human rights protection, in particular in relation to the acts of its armed forces in Iraq. Women who were subject to immigration control and had experienced violence in the UK, including domestic violence and trafficking, were unable to access the support they needed. Rejected asylum-seekers continued to be forced into destitution.

Amnesty International Report 2007:

The government continued to erode fundamental human rights, the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary, including by persisting with attempts to undermine the ban on torture at home and abroad, and by seeking to enact legislation inconsistent with fundamental human rights. Measures taken by the authorities with the stated aim of countering terrorism led to serious human rights violations, and concern was widespread about the impact of these measures on Muslims and other minority communities. Public judicial inquiries into cases of alleged state collusion in past killings in Northern Ireland were ongoing, but the government continued to fail to establish an inquiry into the killing of Patrick Finucane.

vii  See for example John Ruggie's report "on the issue of human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises" according to which corporations have legal responsibilities to prevent human rights abuses


ix  —  The International Bill of Human Rights,

—  United Nations: International covenant on civil and political rights, 1966

—  United Nations: International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, 1966

—  Global Compact, Principles 1 and 2, 1999

—  United Nations: Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials

—  United Nations: Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials

—  United Nations: Project of Norms on Responsibilities of Transnational Corporations and Other Business Enterprises with regard to Human Rights, 2002

—  ILO Tripartite Declaration of Principles concerning Multinational Enterprises and Social Policy, 2000

—  ILO: C169 Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Convention, 1989

—  OECD guidelines for multinational enterprises, revision 2000

—  fundamental ILO conventions: 29, 87, 98, 100, 105, 111, 138 and 182

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