USCIB teamed up with Barrick Gold and Article One Advisors on September 13 to hold a symposium—Human Rights and Remedy in Business Relationships with Limited Leverage. The symposium was hosted by Marriott International and held under Chatham House Rule.
Businesses often have different types of leverage that can be used to help promote corporate responsibility and respect for human rights in their operations and with their business relationships. Contracts provide a clear source of leverage, such as agreements with business partners or sourcing agreements with direct suppliers. This leverage can also extend to using business relationships influence to help promote greater access to judicial and non-judicial remedy for victims – in keeping with the United Nations Guiding Principles on Security and Human Rights (aka Guiding Principles).
“First and foremost, the Guiding Principles set out the critical duty of States to protect the human rights of their citizens through the development and enforcement of national laws,” noted Gabriella Rigg Herzog, USCIB’s vice president for corporate responsibility and labor affairs. “They also include the corporate responsibility to respect human rights and operate with due diligence, and the need for greater access to remedy for victims of alleged human rights abuse,” she added.
But what happens if a business’s leverage is limited? How can a company identify new ways to exercise leverage – especially when it relates to promoting respect for human rights and greater access to remedy – when faced with leverage-limiting scenarios franchises, licensing, sponsorships and non-operated joint ventures?
These questions were the focus of the symposium, which was attended by over 70 representatives of business, U.S. government and civil society. Presenters representing industries as diverse as extractives, hospitality and banking, as well as civil society, discussed stakeholder expectations for business, brainstormed on how to increase trust between stakeholders and business on the issue of leverage, the challenge of defining remedy, and moving from theory to action around key issues like performance, timing and achieving scale.
“Our conversation today is a continuation of the important business and human rights dialogue series launched by Coca-Cola, and which USCIB – together with the International Organization of Employers and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce – has been proud to co-sponsor,” said USCIB President and CEO Peter M Robinson. “And while we won’t likely resolve all of these important questions today, we’re proud to participate in this dialogue and we’ll look forward to seeing you all and continuing the conversation together in Geneva this November at the UN Annual Forum on Business and Human Rights – and beyond.”