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New body of research clarifies why & how businesses should support civic freedoms & human rights defenders

Shared space under pressure: Business support for civic freedoms and human rights defenders

Business & Human Rights Resource Centre & ISHR (authored by Bennett Freeman)

This guidance advises companies as they address the practical challenges as well as opportunities to support civil society and human rights defenders. It explains the normative framework, the business case and the moral choice that should inform company engagement and action. 

"Supporting civic freedoms and human rights defenders is an essential element in the sustainability of enterprises and society as a whole." - John Ruggie, former Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary General on Business & Human Rights & author of the Guiding Principles on Business & Human Rights

The Business Case for Civil Society

RightsCoLab & DLA Piper

The report delves deeper into reasons why it is in the best interest of companies to take action in support of civil society, especially when civil society is under pressure. It highlights eight arguments of the business case to support civil society.

"We know that these freedoms require protection... Not just the forms of speech that entertain us, but the ones that challenge us. The ones that unnerve and even displease us. They’re the ones that need protection the most. It’s no accident that these freedoms are enshrined and protected in the First Amendment. They are the foundation to so many of our rights." - Tim Cook, Apple CEO

The Business Case for Protecting Civic Rights

The B Team (with V-Dem)

The report utilises data from the Varieties of Democracy Institute (V-Dem) to augment the business case for action and explore how a better business environment is linked to greater civic rights and freedoms. The results are clear: limits on important civic freedoms are linked to negative economic outcomes.

Given the increasing vulnerability of human rights defenders and shrinking space where they can operate safely, business has a role and a responsibility to defend and promote fundamental rights and freedoms.” - Paul Polman, Unilever CEO & The B Team Chair

These reports are a contribution to a collective research effort on behalf of the Business Network on Civic Freedoms & Human Rights Defenders, supported by the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre, International Service for Human Rights & The B Team.