Friday, March 06, 2009

Parliament probing business and human rights

A joint committee of the British Parliament today issued a “call for evidence” on how corporations have complied with their responsibility to respect human rights.

The inquiry covers “the way in which businesses can affect human rights both positively and negatively, how business activities engage the relative responsibilities of the UK Government and individual businesses; and whether the existing UK regulatory, legal and voluntary framework provides adequate guidance and clarity to business as well as adequate protection to individual rights.”

Not just corporations but also “interested persons and bodies are invited to submit written evidence” of not more than 2,500 words by May 1, 2009.

The two-page long decision issued by the Parliamentary committee on human rights lists a page of questions that the committee “would particularly welcome evidence.” For this list, the committee uses the framework on human rights and business adopted by the UN Human Rights Council in June 2008.

The committee is requesting views for making its own proposals for possible legislation and for the on-going work of the UN special representative on human rights, John Ruggie. The Bush administration opposed this UN program, which has been ignored by the U.S. media.

For background, see my reports under the category of John Ruggie. Also my new book, Justice at Work: Globalization and the Human Rights of Workers, has a long chapter on Ruggie’s work titled “Business and Human Rights.”

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