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16 Jan 2019

Bennet Freeman, Mauricio Lazala & Michael Ineichen in World Economic Forum's Agenda

Businesses cannot thrive without civic freedoms & accountable governance

"Why businesses are nothing without strong human rights", 16 Jan 2019

Let’s start with a seemingly unconventional proposition: civil society and business share the same space, and therefore should share an interest in defending what unites them. How controversial is that proposition, really? This “shared space” is anchored in accountable governance. Civil society actors and companies both depend on the same legal and institutional frameworks that define the shared space to operate. Civil society cannot flourish, and business will struggle to thrive, without the rules and standards that hold...powers accountable. Civic freedoms – freedoms of expression, association, information and assembly – allow citizens to expose abuses related to corruption, workplace safety, public health, toxic pollution and gender discrimination. These rights support stable, predictable legal and regulatory environments... Companies should recognize the positive role that civil society organizations and human rights defenders play in protecting this space...[T]hey have a responsibility to support these crucial actors when under pressure or threat.... A growing number of corporate leaders are recognizing that... “Corporate activism” – whether reluctant or deliberate – is not easy... These decision factors provide practical steps that companies can and should take to be allies of civil society and not just bystanders – or worse, casualties – in the global crackdown against the “shared space”. [Refers to adidas, Airbnb, Alphabet, Apple, BMW, Cisco Systems, Daimler, Google (part of Alphabet), MicrosoftNike, Salesforce.com, Siemens and Unilever].