New briefing: Human rights due diligence in the chemical industry

This briefing provides a snapshot overview of allegations of human rights abuses brought against companies in the chemical industry. It was developed in collaboration with the UN Special Rapporteur on the implications for human rights of the environmentally sound management and disposal of hazardous substances and wastes, Baskut Tuncak. Based on data collected by the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre between 2012 and 2017, publicly available information and information about current regulatory frameworks and industry initiatives, it aims to provide an insight into some of the core human rights challenges and opportunities for the industry. It shows that while there are positive steps - regulations at the global level, industry-wide initiatives, and individual company actions - the industry bears great potential for improved and holistic approach to human rights.

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Article
30 January 2018

Business & human rights in the chemical industry: An assessment of company responses to human rights issues

Author: Business & Human Rights Resource Centre

In 2011, the UN Human Rights Council affirmed that hazardous substances, including toxic chemicals and pollutants, pose a serious risk to the full enjoyment of human rights... This briefing provides a snapshot overview of allegations of human rights abuses brought against companies in the chemical industry. The information is based on data collected by the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre between 2012 and 2017, publicly available information and information about current regulatory frameworks and industry initiatives. It is not intended to be comprehensive and covers only a small number of companies, particularly when compared to the industry’s size, but aims rather to provide an insight into some of the core human rights challenges and opportunities for the industry...

This [report] explores two key human rights issues that chemical companies can impact: (1) workers’ rights and (2) indigenous and communities’ rights. These represent areas of risk based on the information provided to the Resource Centre...

Overall, companies in the chemical industry have displayed willingness to engage with human rights issues. Some companies have identified policies and practices to address human rights. However, only a few address human rights due diligence and the links between the use of chemicals and their health and environmental impacts in a holistic and stringent manner. The industry bears great potential for improved human rights performance.

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