What can companies do?

An effective human rights policy and conducting appropriate human rights due diligence will help companies address (though will not eliminate) the risk of being implicated in human rights violations, by knowing and showing that they took every reasonable step to avoid involvement.

Companies may wish to consider the following:

  • Has the company made a human rights assessment of the situation in countries where it does, or intends to do, business so as to identify the risk of involvement in human rights abuses and the company's potential impact on the situation?
  • Does the company have explicit policies that protect the human rights of workers in its direct employment and throughout its supply chain?
  • Has the company established a monitoring/tracking system to ensure that its human rights policies are being implemented?
  • Does the company actively engage in open dialogue with stakeholder groups, including civil society organizations?
  • Does the company utilize its leverage over the actor committing the abuse? If the company does not have sufficient leverage, is there a way to increase this leverage (e.g. through capacity building or other incentives or by collaborating with other actors)?
  • Does the company have an explicit policy to ensure that its security arrangements do not contribute to human rights violations? This applies whether it provides its own security, contracts it to others or in the case where security is supplied by the State
  • Ramifications of ending a business relationship, given the potential adverse human rights impacts of doing so

Actions that may be particularly helpful in avoiding complicity include:

  • ...respect international guidelines and standards for the use of force (e.g. the UN Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials and the UN Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials);
  • ...if financial or material support is provided to security forces, establish clear safeguards to ensure that these are not then used to violate human rights and make clear in any agreements with security forces that the business will not condone any violation of international human rights laws;
  • ...privately and publicly condemn systematic and continuous human rights abuses;
  • ...continually consult within and outside the company with relevant stakeholders, as part of a human rights due diligence process, during both pre-investment and post-investment stages;
  • ...raise awareness within the company of known human rights issues within the company’s sphere of influence;
  • ...identify those functions within the firm that are most at risk of becoming linked to human rights abuses, possibly even at the pre-investment/project exploration and planning stage, and where there might be opportunities to advance human rights;
  • ...conduct a human rights impact assessment consisting of an analysis of the functions of a proposed investment and the possible human rights impacts (intended and unintended) they may have on the community or region; and
  • ...identify internal ‘functional risks’ in the post-investment situations. This may involve looking at such functions as purchasing, logistics, government relations, human resource management, HSE (health, safety and environment), sales and marketing


(Source: Principle 2)

Data Set
Metric Type
Value Type
Research Policy