Top Ten Business and Human Rights Issues in 2013

This is the time of year when different people and organizations compile their top ten events/stories of the year about to end or list their top ten issues to watch/predictions for the year to come.

The following top ten list caught my attention today. I saw it on a feed of stories sent out by Amnesty International.

The London-based Institute for Human Rights and Business (IHRB) has published its Top 10 List of Business and Human Rights Issues for 2013:

“Just 18 months after the adoption of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, significant progress has been made in integrating human rights concerns into a range of important initiatives by governments, businesses and other actors around the world.”

“The success of the first annual UN Forum on Business and Human Rights highlighted the growing momentum of the business and human rights movement globally. But ongoing protection gaps remain to be addressed and recent reminders of wide scale abuses of fundamental worker rights point to challenges for 2013 and beyond.”

“These developments, and the results of a public consultation process, provide the frame for today’s release by IHRB of our 4th annual list of Business and Human Rights issues to mark International Human Rights Day.”

The issues are:

  • Embedding respect for human rights across all business relationships
  • Expanding action to combat forced labour and human trafficking
  • Tackling challenges of dual-use internet-based technologies that may undermine privacy rights and freedom of expression
  • Advancing uptake of the UN Guiding Principles in key enabling sectors including finance, ICT and infrastructure
  • Leveraging government as an economic actor through public procurement policies that ensure respect for human rights
  • Renewing efforts to protect lives in the work-place
  • Mitigating the ‘resource curse’ by preventing negative human rights impacts of oil and gas exploration
  • Linking respect for human rights to calls for greater transparency in lobbying by businesses
  • Ensuring responsible investment in conflict-affected and ‘high risk’ areas
  • Addressing the impacts of land and water grabs linked to transport, fishing, security, mineral extraction and other sectors

Professor John Ruggie of Harvard University is the chair of IHRB’s International Advisory Board. He served as the UN Special Representative for Business and Human Rights from 2005 to 2011. During his mandate, he drafted the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights mentioned above.

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