Using the U.N. Global Compact forum to support human rights

Friday, April 22, 2011

The United Nations Global Compact recently launched the Human Rights and Business Dilemma Forum, an initiative designed to stimulate constructive discussion about perceived dilemmas that socially responsible multinational companies may face in their efforts to respect and support human rights when operating in emerging economies.

The Forum features tools and case studies to help companies ensure that human rights are being respected in their operations throughout the world. It was developed in alignment with the framework proposed by John Ruggie, the U.N. Secretary General’s Special Representative for Business and Human Rights.

According to the Forum, one of the biggest dilemmas facing multinational corporations is freedom of association: “How does a company respect the right to freedom of association in its operations and supply chain when its operations…or suppliers are based in countries where such rights are heavily restricted…?”

Because freedom of association is essential to ensuring respect for other fundamental rights at work, it is imperative for companies to find solutions to this important labor issue. The Forum offers examples, suggestions and resources for companies to overcome the freedom of association dilemma, including a recommendation to “develop grievance mechanisms for workers who do not have access to trade unions or workers’ representatives.” One such mechanism mentioned in the Forum is the Fair Labor Association’s Third Party Complaint (3PC) procedure, which serves as a channel through which any individual or organization can confidentially report a serious labor abuse at any factory affiliated with FLA. FLA’s work through 3PCs has helped to bring about positive improvements in the lives of workers. Lodging a complaint with the FLA has made a difference, prompting investigations and ensuring remediation at dozens of factories across the globe.

Check out the Human Rights Business Dilemma Forum to participate in the discussion and learn more.


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