Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Towards a ‘win-win’ situation on globalization and human rights

Corporations generally are in a “lose-lose situation” regarding human rights. They “are not adequately monetizing and aggregating the costs of conflicts with communities in which they operate, typically involving environmental and human rights concerns.” The result: harm to human rights and to the company itself.

That‘s a key finding discussed in a report to the UN Human Rights Council on June 1 by Professor John Ruggie, special representative for the UN Secretary General for business and human rights.

From his own studies and those of other experts, Ruggie has found that the harm to the corporation included revenue losses due to delays and disruptions; higher costs of financing, insurance, and security; and possible project cancellation.

Governments, through judicial and non-judicial mechanisms, “should form the foundation of a system of remedy for corporate-related system human rights abuse,” Ruggie writes, but these mechanisms all “remain underdeveloped – and too many judicial systems are inaccessible to those who need them most.”

Ruggie, whose day job is professor at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, has another year to go on a UN mandate that began in 2005. In the next 12 months, he and the team he assembled will put the finishing touches on a UN Framework for business and human rights -- essentially a paradigm to integrate human rights and globalization. As he recognizes in this report, however, “the international community is still in the early stags of adapting the human rights regime to provide more effective protection to individual and communities against corporate-related harm.”
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