Guide for Integrating Human Rights into Business Management

  • Date Posted: December 14, 2011
  • Organizations: UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, UN, Global Impact
  • Document Types: Guidance
  • Donor Type: Multilateral Organization

The Guide is a technical manual and a hands-on tool for companies to integrate human rights practices within their operations. In addition to standard international human rights protocols (Universal Declaration of Human Rights; International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights; International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights), the guide also addresses conflict-affected areas and the importance of corporate responsibilities with regard to international humanitarian laws. Specific attention is given to the notion of complicity in human rights abuses and how corporations can measure and ensure their direct and indirect compliance with international human rights protocols.

The guide consists of seven elements that make up existing management systems: strategy, policy, processes and procedures, communications, training, measuring impact and auditing, and reporting. The paper provides a Human Rights Matrix which companies can use to identify gaps in their systems with regard to human rights. It also provides numerous checklists for the quick assessment of the main elements and questions that should be asked when establishing corporate strategies, policies, procedures, communications training and impact measurement and reporting systems. It provides examples of corporate responses on each of the seven elements of business management covered.

While this publication is written for a corporate audience, its messages, examples and tools may be adapted and used by donors and practitioners working on private sector development issues in conflict-affected countries. For example, when designing programs that support medium and small enterprises, practitioners and donors should consider raising the same levels of awareness on human rights issues among their partner firms. The manual identifies several areas in the business process where a firm may integrate human rights issues such as in policies and procedures and in its communication with employees and the public.