Over 30 organisations sign joint statements calling on govts, businesses & investors to respond to COVID-19 environmental & human rights risks

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Article
14 May 2020

Building a rights-based response to Covid-19

Author: International Corporate Accountability Roundtable

International Corporate Accountability Roundtable (ICAR), along with over 30 partner organizations, released joint statements today calling on governments, businesses, and investors to respond to Covid-19 related challenges consistent with their environmental and human rights obligations and responsibilities... “So far too many governments and far too many businesses, the focus has been meeting the wants of the already protected rather than the needs of the most vulnerable,” said ICAR Executive Director, Alison Friedman. “That has to change—not just because it’s the right thing to do, but because it’s the only way to build back sustainably..."

... The statement to governments calls on them to meet their human rights obligations during Covid-19... The statement to the business community outlines how companies can uphold their human rights responsibilities... The statement to the investor community urges investors to call upon businesses to craft their Covid-19 response plans with the aforementioned goals in mind, and special consideration for employee health, safety, and economic security.

... While the current situation requires immediate action, the statements also drive home the need for forward looking plans to transition to a more just economy and social order... This involves... promoting forms of business governance that center on workers and communities, committing to a social purpose that considers the wellbeing of all stakeholders and maximizes social good, and adhering to international human rights principles.

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Article
14 May 2020

Joint statement calling on governments to ensure corporate accountability in Covid-19 response

Author: International Corporate Accountability Roundtable & 31 other civil society organisations

Governments need to ensure that their responses to the Covid-19 pandemic are in line with their obligations under international law to respect, protect, and fulfill human rights... [G]overnments must ensure that they are meeting their obligation to protect against human rights abuses by business enterprises... governments must “prevent, investigate, punish and redress” such abuses [by business] through “effective policies, legislation, regulations and adjudication.”... [I]t is imperative that all governments meet their duty to protect against business-related human rights and environmental abuses in the context of this pandemic. We call on governments to...

  • Ensure government stimulus packages prioritize those most at risk...
  • Discourage corporate payouts to shareholders and executives at the expense of workers...
  • Enforce labor protections to protect workers’ rights... [and] ensure companies honor collective bargaining agreements...
  • Ensure companies address impacts on workers in their supply chains...
  • Exercise adequate oversight of private companies involved in government efforts to combat the spread of Covid-19 through digital surveillance...
  • Prioritize human rights and health protections in private prisons and immigrant detention facilities...
  • Provide additional protections for human rights defenders...

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Article
14 May 2020

Joint statement calling on the business community to ensure corporate accountability in Covid-19 response

Author: International Corporate Accountability Roundtable & 32 other civil society organisations

Companies should uphold and further invest in their human rights and environmental commitments and responsibilities, as encompassed by the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs) the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, and the Paris Agreement... As the crisis continues, and to offer immediate relief to those suffering as a result of Covid-19, it is imperative that all businesses meet their responsibility to respect human rights and the environment. We call on businesses to take the following immediate measures:

  • Provide paid leave...
  • Provide PPE, basic equipment, and safe operating procedures...
  • Respect the rights of Indigenous Peoples...
  • Honor contracts with global suppliers...
  • Provide remedy for harm caused to those negatively impacted by business operations...
  • Pay particular attention to the threats facing human rights defenders...

We urge businesses to recognize how our economies and systems of government are broken, and to work to rebuild those structures to protect human dignity, promote corporate accountability, and ensure that governments are free from corruption and corporate influence.

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Article
14 May 2020

Joint statement calling on the investor community to ensure corporate accountability in Covid-19 response

Author: International Corporate Accountability Roundtable & 30 other civil society organisations

Investors and governments alike have increasingly acknowledged the investor responsibility to respect human rights and have begun to integrate it into rules and regulations. While this responsibility may need to be carried out differently in response to a global pandemic, it should nevertheless act as the guiding force behind activities of the investor community as they work with companies that are directly impacted by Covid-19... We call on the investor community to take the following immediate measures:

  • Promote the protection of human rights in corporate Covid-19 responses... Investors should make clear to companies that worker health and safety must be paramount in any response efforts...

  • Ensure adequate and appropriate stakeholder engagement. Investors should use their leverage to ensure that all affected stakeholders are consulted as businesses and governments craft their Covid-19 crisis responses...

  • Pay particular attention to the threats facing human rights defenders and other vulnerable communities...

  • Actively advocate for a sustainable economic recovery... As we look toward a post- Covid-19 society, investors should strategies that seek to address the inequality and inequity built into our current economic structures.

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