Business and human rights

Businesses have unprecedented power and enormous influence on societies and people across the world.

The impact of companies can be positive, but there are also countless instances when companies are implicated in grave abuses, such as forced labour or water and land contamination that destroy the lives of entire communities.

States have a duty to protect people’s human rights, but they often fail to prevent corporate abuses and to hold companies to account. Many times, they do not take any action at all.

The EU has considerable economic and political power, which it should use by showing leadership in the protection of human rights against business-related human rights abuses by EU companies within the EU and around the world.

We advocate for:

  • Establishing mandatory due diligence standards for corporations at EU and national level regarding the impact of their operations on human rights, investments, business relations and global supply chains.
  • Ensuring that the victims of corporate human rights abuses have access to legal remedies.

The EU endorsed in 2011 the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, which define standards for governments and business with the aim to prevent, mitigate and remedy human rights abuses deriving from or linked to business activities. However, it has yet to develop a coordinated approach for implementing these principles in practice. 

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