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UN Forum Series Blog: A new benchmark for human rights

[T]he Corporate Human Rights Benchmark, or CHRB...seeks to initially rank global businesses in agriculture – including food and beverages – the extractives industry and apparel. The businesses are to be judged for “their human rights policy, process and performance, harnessing the competitive nature of the markets to drive better human rights performance”.  If it passes muster, CHRB will undeniably be the next big thing in human rights tracking...It’s an impressive effort. CHRB claims that more than 400 organizations and individuals were consulted across the world through meetings, webinars and online submissions...This is all for the good of corporate accountability in some sectors of business that today witness the worst human rights and environmental depredations...A weakness may be embedded, though, in CHRB’s excited hope that human rights benchmarking will “introduce a positive competitive environment, encouraging companies to race to the top of the annual ranking”....Glib corporate outreach has saved more than one company—even entire industries—from perception and financial ruin...CHRB hopes to guard against this by what it terms the “annual life-cycle” of each company’s benchmarking. It will begin with checking of methodology, then allow a company its window of disclosure, scrutiny of that disclosure with independent research and analysis, dialoguing with the company on such analysis and finally publishing that benchmark. The so-called run to the top...

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