Human rights are universal and every person around the world deserves to be treated with dignity and equality. Basic rights include freedom of speech, privacy, health, life, liberty and security, as well as an adequate standard of living. While governments have the duty to protect individuals against human rights abuses by third parties, businesses are recognizing their legal, moral and commercial need to get involved.
Businesses have minimum responsibilities to meet to respect human rights. They must act with due diligence to avoid infringing the rights of others. This means they must address any negative human rights impacts related to their business. They must also abide by international standards and avoid causing or contributing to adverse human rights impacts through their activities and relationships.
Beyond these minimum requirements, companies can make voluntary, positive contributions to support human rights. For example, they can create diverse and inclusive workplaces, invest in communities and public policy advocacy, and engage employees and communities to promote collective action. While these types of actions to support human rights are encouraged, they do not substitute basic respect for human rights.
In an increasingly interconnected world, there is closer scrutiny of corporate impact on people and communities. Companies that focus on protecting human rights – and cultivate positive relationships with their stakeholders –can help ensure their business’ continued growth and social license to operate.
The UN Global Compact’s human rights principles (Principles 1 and 2) are derived from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. We call on companies to respect and support internationally-proclaimed human rights, and to ensure they are not complicit in human rights abuses. The UN Global Compact promotes tools and resources aligned with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. We also offer engagement opportunities to help businesses respect and support human rights.