Moving Beyond Compliance: Integrating Respect for Human Rights and Anti-Corruption

The relationship between corruption and human rights in business is increasingly recognised as critical. This is because human rights abuses often occur in the context of corruption and a lack of regulation.

 

Countries characterized by corruption are often rife with human rights abuses committed by governments as well as elite business owners and partners​ who fail to take the public good into account when making decisions

 

With the emergence of COVID-19, businesses have been forced to rethink their corporate strategies. This has resulted in financial challenges for businesses across the globe, creating fertile ground for corruption and fueling inequality. However, this also creates an opportunity for businesses to show real leadership as they mitigate negative consequences for workers and society in general. 

 

It should be part of a business’s code of conduct to protect against corruption and protect employees’ rights. Preventing corruption and protecting human rights must be simultaneous priorities. 

 

In previous years, anti-corruption laws such as the UK Anti-Bribery Act and the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, have not incorporated a link to human rights. This must be remedied.

 

Countries characterized by corruption are often rife with human rights abuses committed by governments as well as elite business owners and partners who fail to take the public good into account when making decisions. This creates a vicious cycle in which citizens are denied their rights and societies suffer from poor infrastructure and ineffective private and public sectors. This is especially dangerous during the time of COVID-19, when citizens and states are more vulnerable.

 

An efficient compliance programme ensures that businesses operate ethically and are committed to obeying the law. Sanctions are imposed on corrupt actors and bribes are prohibited. Likewise, layers of legislation are introduced into business operations, including a board of directors; diverse shareholders that include all races, ethnicities and genders; and background checks that screen for conflicts of interest.  Many companies also adopt a code of conduct to which all links in the supply chain must adhere, including prohibition of child workers and forced labour. 

 

Businesses must commit to transparency in their operations to ensure corrupt activities can be detected. Including diverse community representatives in the board ensures that their opinions on business decisions and practices will be taken into account.

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