Responsibilities of Transnational Corporations and Other Business Enterprises with Regard to Human Rights, U.N. Doc. E/CN.4/Sub.2/2002/13 at 15-21 (2002).
COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS
Sub-Commission on the Promotion
and Protection of Human Rights
Fifty-fourth session Item 4 of the provisional agenda
Sessional working group on the working methods and
activities of transnational corporations
ECONOMIC, SOCIAL AND CULTURAL RIGHTS
Responsibilities of Transnational Corporations and Other Business Enterprises
with Regard to Human Rights
The five members of the Working Group (Chairperson El-Hadji Guissé, Miguel Alfonso-Martínez, Vladimir Khartashkin, Soo-Gil Park, and David Weissbrodt) took into consideration the comments at its session convened during the fifty-fourth session of the Sub-Commission as well as E/CN.4/Sub.2/2002/WG.1/WP.1 and E/CN.4/Sub.2/2002/WG.1/WP.1/Add.1 in preparing these Responsibilities of Transnational Corporations and Other Business Enterprises with Regard to Human Rights for the purpose of consideration by the Working Group during its session at the fifty-fifth session of the Sub-Commission in the expectation that the Working Group will submit a draft in light of comments already received and to be received to the Sub-Commission for plenary consideration at the fifty-fifth session.
RESPONSIBILITIES OF TRANSNATIONAL CORPORATIONS AND
OTHER BUSINESS ENTERPRISES WITH REGARD TO HUMAN RIGHTS
Bearing in mind the principles and obligations under the United Nations Charter, in particular the preamble and Articles 1, 2, and 55, inter alia, to promote universal respect for, and observance of, human rights and fundamental freedoms,
Recalling that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights proclaims a common standard of achievement for all peoples and nations, to the end that governments, other organs of society, and individuals shall strive by teaching and education to promote respect for human rights and freedoms and by progressive measures to secure their universal and effective recognition and observance,
Recognizing that even though States have the primary responsibility to promote and protect human rights, transnational corporations and other business enterprises, as organs of society, are also responsible for promoting and securing the human rights set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,
Realizing that transnational corporations and other business enterprises, their officers, and their workers are further obligated to respect generally recognized responsibilities and norms in United Nations treaties and other international instruments such as the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide; the International Convention Against Torture and Other Forms of Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment; the Slavery Convention and the Supplementary Convention on the Abolition of Slavery, the Slave Trade, and Institutions and Practices Similar to Slavery; the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination; the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women; the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights; the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights; the Convention on the Rights of the Child; the four Geneva Conventions and two Additional Protocols for the Protection of Victims of Armed Conflict; the Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms; the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court; the Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime; the Convention on Civil Liability for Oil Pollution Damage; the Convention on Civil Liability for Damage Resulting from Activities Dangerous to the Environment; the Rio Declaration on the Environment and Development, the WHO International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes and the Ethical Criteria for Medical Drug Promotion; the UNESCO Convention Against Discrimination in Education; ILO conventions and recommendations; the Convention and Protocol relating to the Status of Refugees; the African Charter on Human Rights and Peoples’ Rights; the American Convention on Human Rights; the European Convention on Human Rights; the Charter on Fundamental Rights of the European Union; the OECD’s Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions; and other instruments,
Taking into account the standards set forth in the International Labour Organization Tripartite Declaration of Principles Concerning Multinational Enterprises and Social Policy,
Aware of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises and its Committee on International Investment and Multinational Enterprises; the U.N. Global Compact initiative which challenges business leaders to Aembrace and enact@ nine basic principles with respect to human rights, including labour rights and the environment; and the ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and the Rights at Work,
Conscious of the efforts of the ILO Committee on Multinational Enterprises; the interpretation of standards by the ILO Governing Body Sub-Committee on Multinational Enterprises, the ILO Committee of Experts, the Conference Committee on the Application of Standards, and the Declaration Expert-Advisors; as well as the ILO Committee on Freedom of Association which has named business enterprises implicated in States= failure to comply with ILO Conventions 87 and 98, and seeking to supplement and assist their efforts to encourage transnational corporations and other business enterprises to protect human rights,
Taking note of global trends which have increased the influence of transnational corporations and other business enterprises B and particularly transnational corporations -- on the economies of most countries and in international economic relations; and the growing number of other business enterprises which operate across national boundaries in a variety of arrangements resulting in economic activities beyond the actual capacities of any one national system,
Noting that transnational corporations and other business enterprises have the capacity to foster economic well-being, development, technological improvement, and wealth as well as have the capacity to cause deleterious human rights impacts on the lives of individuals through their employment practices, environmental policies, relationships with suppliers and consumers, interactions with governments, and other activities,
Noting also that new international human rights issues and concerns are continually emerging and that transnational corporations and other business enterprises often are related to these issues and concerns, such that further standard-setting and implementation are required at this time and in future,
Acknowledging the universality, indivisibility, interdependence, and interrelatedness of human rights, including the right to development, that entitles every human person and all peoples to participate in; contribute to; and enjoy economic, social, cultural, and political development in which all human rights and fundamental freedoms can be fully realized,
Reaffirming that transnational corporations and other business enterprises, their officers, and their workers have human rights obligations and responsibilities and that these human rights responsibilities will contribute to the making and development of international law as to their responsibilities and obligations,
Solemnly proclaims these norms of Responsibilities of Transnational Corporations and Other Business Enterprises with Regard to Human Rights and urges that every effort be made so that they become generally known and respected:
A. General Obligations
1. States have the primary responsibility to respect, ensure respect for, prevent abuses of, and promote human rights recognised in international as well as national law, including assuring that transnational corporations and other business enterprises respect human rights. Within their respective spheres of activity and influence, transnational corporations and other business enterprises have the obligation to respect, ensure respect for, prevent abuses of, and promote human rights recognized in international as well as national law.
B. Right to Equal Opportunity and Non-Discriminatory Treatment
2. Transnational corporations and other business enterprises shall ensure equality of opportunity and treatment, for the purpose of eliminating discrimination based on race, colour, sex, religion, political opinion, nationality, social origin, social status, indigenous status, disability, age (except for children who may be given greater protection), or other status of the individual unrelated to the individual=s ability to perform his/her job.
C. Right to Security of Persons
3. Transnational corporations and other business enterprises shall not engage in nor benefit from war crimes, crimes against humanity, genocide, torture, forced disappearance, forced or compulsory labour, hostage-taking, other violations of humanitarian law, and other international crimes against the human person as defined by international law.
4. Security arrangements for transnational corporations and other business enterprises shall observe international human rights norms as well as the laws and professional standards of the country or countries in which they operate.
D. Rights of Workers
5. Transnational corporations and other business enterprises shall not use forced or compulsory labour as forbidden by the relevant international instruments and national legislation as well as international human rights law.
6. Transnational corporations and other business enterprises shall respect the rights of children to be protected from economic exploitation as forbidden by the relevant international instruments and national legislation as well as international human rights law.
7. Transnational corporations and other business enterprises shall provide a safe and healthy working environment as provided by the relevant international instruments and national legislation as well as international human rights law.
8. Transnational corporations and other business enterprises shall compensate workers with remuneration that ensures an adequate standard of living for them and their families. Such remuneration shall take due account of their needs for adequate living conditions with a view towards progressive improvement.
9. Transnational corporations and other business enterprises shall ensure the freedom of association and effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining by protecting the right to establish and, subject only to the rules of the organization concerned, to join organizations of their own choosing without distinction, previous authorization, or interference, for the protection of their employment interests and for other collective bargaining purposes as provided in the relevant ILO conventions.
E. Respect for National Sovereignty and Human Rights
10. Transnational corporations and other business enterprises shall recognize and respect applicable norms of international law; national laws; regulations; administrative practices; the rule of law; development objectives; social, economic, and cultural policies including transparency, accountability, and prohibition of corruption; and authority of the countries in which the enterprises operate.
11. Transnational corporations and other business enterprises shall not offer, promise, give, accept, condone, knowingly benefit from, or demand a bribe or other improper advantage. Nor shall they be solicited or expected to give a bribe or other improper advantage to any government, public official, candidate for elective post, or any other individual or organization. Transnational corporations and other business enterprises shall refrain from any activity which supports, solicits, or encourages states or any other entities to abuse human rights. They shall further seek to ensure that the goods and services they provide will not be used to abuse human rights.
12. Transnational corporations and other business enterprises shall respect civil, cultural, economic, political, and social rights, and contribute to their realization, in particular the rights to development; adequate food and drinking water; the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health; adequate housing; education; freedom of thought, conscience, and religion; and freedom of opinion and expression; and refrain from actions which obstruct the realization of those rights.
Obligations with regard to Consumer Protection
13. Transnational corporations and other business enterprises shall act in accordance with fair business, marketing, and advertising practices and shall take all necessary steps to ensure the safety and quality of the goods and services they provide. They shall not produce, distribute, market, or advertise potentially harmful or harmful products for use by consumers.
G. Obligations with regard to Environmental Protection
14. Transnational corporations and other business enterprises shall carry out their activities in accordance with national laws, regulations, administrative practices, and policies relating to the preservation of the environment of the countries in which they operate as well as in accordance with relevant international agreements, principles, objectives, responsibilities, and standards with regard to the environment as well as human rights, public health, and safety; and shall generally conduct their activities in a manner contributing to the wider goal of sustainable development.
H. General Provisions of Implementation
15. As an initial step towards implementing these Human Rights Responsibilities, each transnational corporation or other business enterprise shall adopt, disseminate, and implement internal rules of operation in compliance with these Responsibilities. Further, they shall take other measures fully to implement these Human Rights Responsibilities and to provide at least for the prompt implementation of the protections set forth in these Responsibilities. Each transnational corporation or other business enterprise shall apply and incorporate these principles in their contracts or other arrangements and dealings with contractors, sub-contractors, suppliers, and licensees in order to ensure their implementation and respect.
16. Transnational corporations and other businesses enterprises shall be subject to periodic monitoring by national, international, governmental, and/or nongovernmental mechanisms regarding their application of the Human Rights Responsibilities. This monitoring shall be transparent, independent, and take into account input from stakeholders, including complaints of violations of these Responsibilities. Further, transnational corporations and other businesses enterprises shall conduct periodic evaluations concerning the impact of their own activities on human rights under these Responsibilities.
17. Transnational corporations and other business enterprises shall provide prompt, effective, and adequate reparation to those persons, entities, and communities who have been adversely affected by failures to comply with these Responsibilities through, inter alia, reparations, restitution, compensation, and rehabilitation for any damage done or property taken. In connection with determining damages and in all other respects, these Responsibilities shall be enforced by national courts.
18. Nothing in these Human Rights Responsibilities shall be construed as diminishing, restricting, or adversely affecting the human rights obligations of States under national and international law. Nor shall they be construed as diminishing, or adversely affecting more protective human rights norms.
20. The phrase Aother business enterprise includes any business entity, regardless of the international or domestic nature of its activities, including a transnational corporation; the corporate, partnership, or other legal form used to establish the business entity; and the nature of the ownership of the entity. These Responsibilities shall be presumed to apply, as a matter of practice, if the business enterprise has any relation with a transnational corporation, the impact of its activities is not entirely local, or the activities involve violations of the right to security as indicated in paragraphs three and four.
21. The term stakeholder includes stockholders, other owners, workers, and their representatives, as well as any other individual or group that is affected by the activities of the business. The term stakeholder should be interpreted functionally in light of the objectives of these Human Rights Responsibilities and include indirect stakeholders when their interests are or will be substantially affected by the activities of the transnational corporation or business enterprise. In addition to parties directly affected by the activities of business enterprises, stakeholders can include parties which are indirectly affected by the activities of businesses such as consumer groups, customers, governments, neighboring communities, indigenous peoples and communities, NGOs, public and private lending institutions, suppliers, trade associations, and others.
22. The terms contractor, subcontractor, supplier, and licensee include any natural or legal person who enters into any agreement with the transnational corporation or business enterprise to accomplish the enterprise's activities.
23. The phrases internationally recognized human rights and international human rights include civil, cultural, economic, political, and social rights, as set forth in the International Bill of Human Rights and other human rights treaties, as well as the right to development and rights recognized by international humanitarian law, international refugee law, international labour law, and other relevant instruments adopted within the United Nations system.