Opinion: "UN speak does not work with businesses." Human rights defenders can be key in risk assessment & due diligence processes
"What it takes to bridge the divide between the business sector and human rights", 16 May 2022
It has already been 10 years since the adoption of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights... The enactment of legislation at the regional and national levels requiring companies to carry out human rights due diligence, such as the newly proposed EU Directive on Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence, as well as negotiations on a binding international treaty on business and human rights, creates a window of opportunity ... to change corporate conduct and advance human rights... there is a momentum for human rights organizations to engage productively with businesses, responsible investors, and other private actors that hold increasing market power, leverage, and are subject to new human rights legislation... global corporations are becoming increasingly relevant actors in international conflicts. In other words, businesses could become powerful allies in advancing human rights’ agendas with governments or in regards to public opinion...
As civil society, we need to identify and understand how to best engage our strategic targets and audiences. If we want to constructively engage companies, business associations or investors on human rights issues, we must recognize who our interlocutor is. Businesses’ core activity is the starting point to analyze any human rights issue: their business, people, customers, and supply chain.
Businesses tend to focus on risk identification and mitigation. There is growing recognition that human rights defenders can play a vital role in sounding the alarm on problems within an organization’s operations or supply chain. Generally, ‘UN speak’ does not work with businesses. Civil society should avoid jargon when engaging with business circles. Business representatives seek examples and clarity on which human rights issues are of concern and how they are relevant to their operations...