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Business support for HRDs & civic freedoms

BHRRC archive

One of the most important and urgent opportunities for responsible business is to support civic freedoms - freedoms of association, assembly, expression and privacy - and the people who exercise the rights to defend all human rights. There is a clear normative responsibility for companies to respect human rights, as set forth in the Guiding Principles on Business & Human Rights (UNGPs), and companies also have a discretionary opportunity to go above and beyond these defined responsibilities and expectations. The UNGPs are a hard floor, not a low ceiling, for company action to support civic freedoms and human rights defenders (HRDs). This page gathers the latest news on business action in support of human rights defenders and features a collection of company and investor policies that mention HRDs.

"Supporting civic freedoms and human rights defenders is an essential element in the sustainability of enterprises and society as a whole."
John Ruggie, former Special Representative of the UN Secretary General on Business and Human Rights & author of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights

Featured contents

Large businesses & associations with public policies & statements in support of human rights defenders

At least 29 companies have policies that mention defenders, and some explicitly endorse the zero-tolerance approach to violence against them in their supply chains.

IFC releases guidance for its clients on preventing reprisals against project opponents during COVID-19, encouraging zero tolerance approach

Recognizing that reprisals against project stakeholders who voice opinions or opposition to project activities have grown in visibility worldwide, with the potential to be magnified during the COVID-19 pandemic, IFC released guidance for its clients on how to address them.

Company executives speak out against racism & in support of the Black Lives Matter movement

Protests against systemic racism and police brutality against Black people and in support of justice, accountability, and equity have spread across the USA and worldwide. Executives at companies such as Citi, Netflix, Nike, Twitter and others made statements against racism and some have expressed support for the Black Lives Matter movement. Many advocates have critiqued companies for making supportive statements but not taking action against racism or publicly releasing information about diversity among staff, leadership, and Board members.