Human Rights Translated 2.0: A Business Reference Guide

Sarah Joseph, Ursula Wynhoven, Shubha Chandra

Research output: Book/ReportBookpeer-review


Business is increasingly recognising the importance of human rights. A 2015 survey of The Economist Intelligence Unit found that a majority of business executives now recognise that business is an important player in respecting human rights, and that what their companies do – or fail to do – affects those rights. In the survey, 83 per cent of respondents agree (74 percent of whom do so strongly) that human rights are a matter for business as well as governments. Hundreds of companies now publish human rights policies and embed human rights in relevant company processes.To date, over 8,800 companies in 146 countries are signatories to the UN Global Compact and have committed themselves to the UN Global Compact’s Ten Principles, including six principles that address human rights and labour standards.Both reflecting and advancing the trend of increased business recognition of human rights as relevant to their operations, the United Nations Human Rights Council in 2011 unanimously endorsed the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (hereafter: the UN Guiding Principles) which sets out the responsibilities business have with regard to human rights. The UN Guiding Principles clarify that the scope of business’responsibility to respect human rights extends, at aminimum, to those rights expressed in the International Bill of Human Rights and the principles concerning fundamental rights set out in the International Labour Organization’s Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work.These developments notwithstanding, many companies are still struggling to understand the meaning of human rights, how human rights may be relevant to their activities and what they can do to meet their responsibility to respect human rights set out in the UNGlobal Compact’s first principle and the UN Guiding Principles. The purpose of this publication is to explain the meaning of universally recognised human rights in a way that makes sense to business. To aid the understanding of the different rights it will also illustrate, through the use of real world examples, how human rights apply in a business context. It should be stressed that the examples are included for illustrative learning purposes only, and do not in any way constitute an endorse mentor denunciation of the individual companies or of their human rights policies or practices.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationClayton Vic Australia
PublisherCastan Centre for Human Rights Law, Monash University
Number of pages140
ISBN (Print)9780648034605
Publication statusPublished - 2017

Cite this