Blog: What can be done to incentivize private sector to respect and protect civic freedoms?

Author: Ana Zbona, Business & Human Rights Resource Centre, Published on: 22 May 2018

In late April 2018, 68 institutional investor groups that participate in the Investor Alliance for Human Rights called on companies to make commitments to protect human rights defenders... What prompted this group of investors to speak out on this issue and how should companies respond? Investors realized that growing threats to civic freedoms and civil society—the CIVICUS Monitor reported serious systemic threats to civic space in 109 countries in 2018 and the World Economic Forum has recognized this phenomenon as one of the biggest threats to global stability—are a material risk for them and for the companies they invest in... Both businesses and governments should take this call by investors seriously. The rule of law and freedom of expression, association, and assembly are not only essential to the respect for and protection of human rights, good governance and accountable institutions, but also to predictable, profitable and sustainable business environments in which companies thrive and economies prosper. These ideas are reflected in SDG 17...and SDG 16... Among the sectors most implicated in abuses, some are taking positive steps. The International Council on Mining and Metals, for example, recently released a statement in support of defenders and civic freedoms. But too many are lagging behind...

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