Regional briefing on business & human rights in Western Europe: "A challenge to end business-related human rights abuses"

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Article
1 May 2014

Businesses across Europe and central Asia are still violating workers' rights

Author: Eniko Horvath and Ella Skybenko, Business & Human Rights Resource Centre

People around the world will mark workers' struggles for improved working conditions today on International Workers' Day. Many of those living and working in Europe enjoy the achievements of this movement. Yet, others in the region continue to face exploitation, discrimination, injuries and even death. These should be a major concern in this month's European Parliament elections...European governments must take some of the blame for this continued human rights abuse. The scale of complacency is perhaps best illustrated by the fact that only three governments, the UK, Netherlands and Denmark, have delivered on the promise of a National Action Plan for the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, almost three years after they were endorsed by the UN Human Rights Council. Sadly, Russia, one of the sponsors in the UN Human Rights Council resolution endorsing the Guiding Principles, appears to have taken few steps to implement the Principles. The inertia of governments is matched by most European companies. BP, H&M, Kuoni, Nestlé and Unilever are among the few in Europe who have taken concrete implementation steps and have made them publicly available.

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Article
1 May 2014

[PDF] Executive summary: Regional Briefing on Business and Human Rights in Western Europe

Author: Business & Human Rights Resource Centre

Three years after their endorsement [of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights], what are some of the key achievements in the region, and where do companies and governments continue to fall short in protecting against business-related human rights abuses? The briefing highlights that business-related human rights abuses continue in the region, especially affecting vulnerable groups such as migrant workers, and minorities. Most governments have been slow to develop action plans to implement the Guiding Principles: only three [Denmark, Netherlands, UK] have finalised their plans...At the same time, the briefing emphasises the leading role that some companies and governments in the region have taken in the field of business and human rights. The briefing identifies key areas of concern, explores existing progress at addressing them, and suggests recommendations for action...

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Article
1 May 2014

[PDF] Full briefing: "A Challenge to End Business - Related Human Rights Abuses"

Author: Business & Human Rights Resource Centre

Areas of concern highlighted by the briefing include: forced labour & other forms of labour exploitation; discrimination at work or by companies; companies' involvement in government surveillance violating privacy rights; health & safety at work; concerns related to private military & security companies including excessive use of force, intimidation and threats; concerns related to extractives; and tax evasion limiting governments’ resources that could be used to tackle poverty and provide social services...The briefing refers to cases in or involving companies headquartered in Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and UK...[Refers to Apple, Conserve Italia, Cooperative, La Doria, Sainsbury's, Tesco and Waitrose, Amazon, IKEA, Marks & Spencer, Primark, Skype, Microsoft, Facebook, Yahoo!, Nokia, Orange, Telefónica, Telenor, Vodafone, France Telecom (now Orange), Renault, Merrill-Lynch (part of Bank of America), Heineken, Intel, British Airways, BT, Bupa, RBS, Mars, Procter & Gamble, Accenture, Deloitte, Hensel European Security Services (Hess), G4S, Cuadrilla Resources, Eldorado Gold, Beowulf Mining, Barclays, Starbucks, adidas, Rio Tinto, Clifford Chance, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, Linklaters and Herbert Smith Freehills, Barclays, BBVA, Credit Suisse, ING Bank, RBS Group, UBS, UniCredit, Unilever, H&M, Nestlé, Kuoni, Mazars, Danzer, Riwal, Amesys, Vinci, Qosmos]

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Article
1 May 2014

[PDF] Press release: "European Business: Workers and Minorities at the Sharp End of Human Rights Abuse"

Author: Business & Human Rights Resource Centre

Two briefings issued in parallel by Business & Human Rights Resource Centre find business respect for human rights remains a challenge in Western Europe and in Eastern Europe & Central Asia. Released to mark International Workers’ Day, the briefings serve as a harsh reminder that despite key international standards and guidance, many people living and working in Europe and Central Asia continue to be subjected to human rights abuses caused by companies’ activities.

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