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3 Dec 2015

Katie Redford, EarthRights International

UN Forum Series Blog: Rhetoric of corporate responsibility is not enough: Corporations must walk the walk, not just talk the talk

Fundamentally, most corporate managers still believe that human rights compliance is – and should be – strictly voluntary: something to take into account after they’ve made their quarterly earnings projections and have time and money left over for forward-looking, public goodwill projects. For me, human rights compliance must be mandatory. Preventing rape, torture, or forced resettlement should never be balanced or negotiated...I don’t believe in “good” and “bad” companies. It’s just that when companies are set up by definition to pursue profits to the exclusion of other motivations, they often disregard human rights if the economics demand it unless strong protections are written into law and are enforced consistently...The very same companies who talk about standards for corporate responsibility wage zealous legal battles to prevent actual enforcement of these same norms...My point is this: companies shouldn’t get positive grades for the codes of conduct they sign onto or the community projects they lead without also taking into account the ways that they throw their weight around to avoid accountability, intimidate their critics and co-opt the political process.