New report examines the role of businesses in protecting civic space

"Beyond Integrity", Oct 2016

Beyond Integrity, a new report produced by CAF, in collaboration with the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), examines how some companies are going above and beyond their traditional role to protect civic space.

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Article
24 October 2016

Human Rights Defenders act as a form of unpaid due dilligence for companies, so it makes sense to defend them, says Duncan Green

Author: Duncan Green, strategic adviser for Oxfam GB and author of ‘From Poverty to Power’

"Why/how should corporates defend civil society space? Good new paper + case studies", 19 Oct 2016

I saw some effective academic-NGO cooperation last week...The occasion was the launch of Beyond Integrity: Exploring the role of business in preserving civil society space...[T]he authors went looking for cases where businesses had got involved in defending civil society from attacks by government, and identified four really interesting cases...They interviewed a number of...players in each case. Some points that emerged: The importance of individuals and organizations that bridge the corporate and civil society spheres...Long term partnerships can help retain access to those networks even when people move on...The business case for acting to defend civil society space varies according to the sector and country, but overall, human rights defenders act as a form of unpaid due diligence for companies, keeping them alert to risks emerging within the system. So it makes sense to defend them. However, company agency is difficult and can easily backfire into nationalist accusations of foreign meddling....An issue will be more legitimate if it directly affects core company operations (staff, shareholders, brand, communities where they operate).

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Article
21 October 2016

Asking companies to take a more proactive stand in defending human rights will reinforce corporations’ growing dominance, says London Mining Network

Author: Oliver Balch

"Report praising companies on human rights criticised as whitewash", 21 Oct 2016

[C]ontroversial new report published by the UK-based Charities Aid Foundation (CAF)...seeks to make the case for companies as a “force for good” in defending human rights and has angered human rights organisations. Thulsi Narayanasamy from campaign group War on Want said the report was a “tool to whitewash the exploitative nature of many private sector industries, from the extractive companies through to fashion and electronics brands”...While CAF accepts that not all corporations are saints, it maintains that responsible companies can and do make meaningful contributions to the promotion of human rights and the defence of civil society organisations being oppressed by states...“We have a responsibility to promote these good examples because that hopefully will become a self-fulfilling prophecy and … will encourage more companies to engage in defending civil society activists,” says Adam Pickering, international policy manager at CAF...London Mining Network...believes asking companies to take a more proactive stand in defending human rights merely reinforces corporations’ growing dominance...

Article
14 October 2016

New report highlights how companies have stood up for individuals and civil society organisations

Author: London School of Economics & Charities Aid Foundation

Beyond Integrity, a new report produced by CAF, in collaboration with the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), examines how some companies are going above and beyond their traditional role to protect civic space. Key findings [include]: [p]rivately held dialogues between key stakeholders and host governments can be more effective at initiating positive action than a public challenge, [l]everaging formal and informal cross-sectoral networks is instrumental in convincing corporations to act on behalf of civil society, [f]irms in consumer-facing industries are responsive to large-scale social movements that raise awareness regarding human rights abuses and [p]rivately owned companies with strong ethics and values tied into the core business model, led by engaged leaders, are likely to respond to civil society...Our case studies highlight how companies have championed and stood up for individuals and civil society organisations.

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