Business Enterprises’ Responsibility of Respecting Human Rights

Business enterprises’ responsibility of respecting human rights is governed by several foundational and operational principles. The first principle is the disclosure of business enterprises’ commitment to responsibility of respecting human rights through a statement of policy. This statement  must be approved by the top business enterprise’s management concerned with its responsibility of respecting human rights. These enterprises should be informed by relevant internal or external experiences which are drawn from trusted websites, or well-known consultants; such experiences should be accessible to all partners and stakeholders of the enterprise, whether they are employees, partners, investors or stakeholders.

Pertaining internal availability, business enterprises should illustrate clearly their policies, procedures and accountability, and  support this with an appropriate training for its employees.  Furthermore, coherence among the business enterprise’s policies and procedures with the purpose of  respecting human rights should be reflected through; for example, procurement procedures, financial incentives for employees, and other relevant issues. Finally, to instil the responsibility of human rights respect, it is necessary that such responsibility be reflected through the policies and procedures of the enterprise.

The second operational principle is human rights due diligence. This principle involves several steps including evaluation of actual and expected negative human rights effects which may occur through its activities whether internal or external. Acting upon the results, follow- up responses, and appropriate treatment should be provided. Human rights due diligence will differ from an enterprise to another according to its size, nature of work, and the risk of human rights effects. In addition, it should be continuous, and based on the possibility of changing human rights effects over time according to the development of the organization’s structure and operation. It is worth mentioning that human rights due diligence can be within wider enterprise risk-management system, which identifies and manage risks facing the company and its stakeholders. Consequently, business enterprises ought to begin or develop due diligence which assists in mitigating negative human rights effects during their activities with all relevant  parties.

Business enterprises may be complicit or contributor to complicity with other parties who arise negative human rights effects. Complicity term is divided into non-legal and legal terms. For instance, if business enterprise A committed an abuse and business enterprise B has known that, in this case business enterprise B becomes as beneficial of this abuse, thus  contributing to non-legal complicity. In terms of legal complicity, in some cases, national jurisdictions may be based on civil actions, and when business enterprises contribute to complicity in human rights abuse, such an abuse will be considered as a legal issue. However, the international criminal law has banned this action due to its contribution to crime committing.

It is oblivious that business enterprises’ protection against legal claims related to negative human rights effects is applied through adequate due diligence, where it states that they have implemented all rules to avoid engagement in human rights abuse.  It must be pointed out that applying due diligence does not exempt business enterprises from accountability for contributing or causing human rights abuse.

Briefly, to implant the responsibility of  human rights respect , business enterprises should abide by their policies, procedures, and reflect this on all relevant parties. Also, they should exercise due care to avoid potential negative human rights impacts and address actual ones.