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With adequate due diligence General Electric can make a difference for people in Myanmar, says GE counsel

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12 February 2013

Myanmar (formerly Burma) and Human Rights

Author: Mark Nordstrom, GE Citizenship

GE was the first U.S. company authorized to operate in Myanmar...The requirements…closely follow the precepts established by the UN Guiding Principles…What if a state widely fails to shoulder this obligation, yet a business entity…seeks to do business in that country?...Myanmar is a country of 60 million people that has tremendous resources in mining, oil and gas, and other industries….The Burmese people are in dire need of our sustainable energy equipment, healthcare products, and oil and gas...[T]he challenges of doing business in Myanmar are fraught with risk. However, with careful planning, adequate due diligence and measured initiatives…[GE] can…do…“good” and “mak[e]…a difference” for the people of Myanmar.

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4 February 2013

Integrating Human Rights into Business Due Diligence

Author: Salil Tripathi (Institute for Human Rights and Business), GE Citizenship Advisory Panel

The framework for business and human rights the UN Human Rights Council adopted unanimously is relatively new. But its underlying expectation—that companies undertake due diligence to ensure that their conduct does not undermine human rights, and in fact respects rights—is an old one...For a company of GE’s size and scale, the processes the company develops to identify and address risks is critical to delivering on its responsibility to respect human rights...[I]n going through the process of human rights impact assessments, new challenges and dilemmas are likely to be uncovered...GE’s products include component systems that support the functioning of defense equipment that can be used in weapon systems, and it is critical that the company has in place systems, protocols and processes to ensure that its products or services do not contribute to human rights violations... Likewise, there are human rights challenges and implications with regard to the collection of healthcare data...[D]ata can be misused, and there are implications for individual privacy if too much data is collected or shared without adequate safeguards.

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