Latest news: CEO activism and other positive business initiatives to protect civic freedoms

The main elements of a safe and enabling environment for civil society organizations (CSOs) and human rights defenders (HRDs) are the respect for basic freedoms, strong compliance with the rule of law, removal of all obstacles for registration and operation, end to all forms of impunity, and free access to remedy and redress mechanisms. All these are the same elements that are conducive for healthy environments in which to conduct business and investments. The fates of CSOs, HRDs, and companies are closely intertwined.

Human rights, labour rights and environmental defenders, journalists, lawyers, and anti-corruption campaigners are key agents of change, and they contribute greatly to safeguarding human rights and the rule of law. As such, both companies and defenders have a shared interest in the full respect of freedoms of expression, association and assembly, characterised by non-discrimination, transparent and accountable government, and freedom from corruption.

However, the operating context for CSOs and HRDs has become, and continues to become increasingly restrictive and dangerous in many countries. These countries include those in which companies operate and invest. More and more companies understand that they can have a powerful voice in the protection of civic freedoms, especially where abuses are taking place linked to their industry and/or operations. Below are some of these recent examples of emerging good practices and drivers of such actions.

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Article
11 January 2014

Striking a Balance in Cambodia

Author: Marta Kasztelan, Diplomat

...The reaction of businesses to last year‘s Rana Plaza factory collapse tragedy in Bangladesh, which claimed the lives of 1,100 workers, demonstrates that damage to the brand name is a risk increasingly featuring on the corporate radar. How this...

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Article
1 October 2014

Government repression of human rights activists: when should business speak out? From Hong Kong streets to the European Games in Azerbaijan

Author: Annabel Short, Program Director, Business & Human Rights Resource Centre

...Clearly, companies need to manage their own human rights impacts – through their operations and their value chains.  And, when it comes to business’ influence over government, an important dimension is that of “corporate capture” (for example,...

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Article
22 April 2015

Open statement calling for charges to be dropped against journalist Rafael Marques de Morais in Angola

Author: Tiffany Co., Leber Jeweler

We, the undersigned companies, are concerned over reports of human rights abuses in the diamond sector in Angola, and over efforts by the Angolan Government to criminally prosecute the award-winning journalist and human rights activist Rafael Marques...

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Article
1 June 2015

Despite the odds: Businesses speaking out for human rights

Author: Mauricio Lazala, Deputy Director, Business & Human Rights Resource Centre

...Recently, we have seen a proliferation of repressive laws and practices deployed by an increasing number of states, and an increase in the criminalisation of human rights defenders and other civil society actors. Companies’ responses are at odds...

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Article
17 June 2015

“What human rights?" - Why some companies speak out while others don’t

Author: Mauricio Lazala & Joseph Bardwell, Business and Human Rights Resource Centre

Companies can be a powerful voice in the protection of the vulnerable in repressive countries, particularly where abuses are taking place linked to their industry and when they are major investors. Unfortunately, many companies remain unwilling to...

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Article
12 October 2015

Open for Business initiative promotes positive business & economic case for equality

Open For Business is a coalition of global companies making the case that inclusive, diverse societies are better for business and better for economic growth. The purpose of the coalition is to promote a positive business and economic case for...

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Article
12 October 2015

Report: "The Economic and Business case for global LGB&T inclusion"

Author: Open for Business

Open, inclusive and diverse societies are better for business and better for economic growth. This report presents the evidence base that supports this: it demonstrates that businesses thrive in tolerant societies and that the spread of anti-LGB&T...

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Article
10 December 2015

Safe and enabling operating environment is important for both human rights defenders and businesses, says ISHR's director

Author: Phil Lynch, Director, International Service for Human Rights

"Business and human rights defenders: A safe and enabling operating environment for all", 10 Dec 2015...

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Article
26 March 2016

China: Magazine Caixin challenges govt. over tightened censorship in article

Author: Tom Phillips, The Guardian (UK)

“Chinese magazine challenges government over censorship”, 8 Mar 2016...

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Article
7 April 2016

"CEO activism" on social issues is having a political impact, says New York Times op-ed

Author: Aaron K. Chatterji, Fuqua School of Business at Duke Univ., and Michael W. Toffel, Harvard Business School, in New York Times (USA)

"The Power of C.E.O. Activism", 1 April 2016...

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