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Human Rights

Neville White
By Neville White Head of SRI Policy and Research December 2015
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Human Rights

Summary

Summary In this edition of our Amity Insight series, we focus on managing actual and potential human rights risk, which has become critical for some businesses operating in ‘high-risk-high-impact’ sectors. Globalised operations and supply chains have considerably heightened the risk, and getting it wrong can have catastrophic effects on reputation and the ‘licence to operate’.

In this Insight, we look at the international context for protecting and respecting human rights and how business is affected, and we consider three specific areas of human rights impact:
  • Conflict
  • Supply chains
  • Land rights

The Business Context

The Business Context
Human rights are relevant to all businesses, but not necessarily equally. The advent of globalised systems of supply (added to the increasing appetite of companies to operate in challenging territories) materially increases the risk of complicity in human rights violations. Business appetite for investing and operating in oppressive regimes also increases risk and impact. The wider the scope of international operations, the harder it is to monitor human rights risk comprehensively and the stronger the risk of becoming complicit in human rights violations.

A Positive Screen

A Positive Screen At EdenTree, we apply a positive screen to potential and on-going investments, whereby companies operating in ‘oppressive regimes’ will be closely analysed. We continue to exclude from investment companies with material operating interests in Burma (Myanmar) and Sudan, and we do not invest in State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs) in China. We tend to avoid investment in mining and trans-national integrated oil exploration and production given the range of challenging markets they are exposed to and the heightened human rights risk.

Help from the UN Guiding Principles

Help from the UN Guiding Principles The UN Guiding Principles Framework establishes that human rights are relevant to all businesses, but not all businesses equally. The Principles effectively converge expectations of all leading actors – government, business and civil society, as part of the protect, respect and remedy formula. To manage emerging human rights risk, businesses are increasingly required to understand fully the nature of their exposure via comprehensive due diligence. EdenTree’s responsible investment approach is predicated on business not being held complicit in human rights violations and not materially supporting oppressive regimes via state support. We also actively look for companies making a tangible commitment to civil society and contributing towards economic and social progress within communities.

View from the top

View from the top In this Insight we examine human rights as an emerging corporate risk. Human rights protection is the responsibility of government, but respect for human rights is a business responsibility within and through its sphere of operation. International law and the UN Guiding Principles Framework provide the tools for business to understand and respond to the risk dependent on the sector in which it operates. Failure to do so will invite charges of complicity, risk reputational damage and possibly lead to a loss of the licence to operate. Getting it wrong may be damaging to the communities, but we see opportunities for those companies that get it right.

Download PDF: 'Human Rights: Human Wrongs'

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