In a world where the 50 of the 100 biggest economies are multinational companies and new communications technology is erasing national borders, governments are no longer the sole agents of global behavior.
Corporations have reached a level of influence that makes them both a problem and a potential solution in human rights struggles and requires a dual effort: holding them accountable for their actions (and the actions of their suppliers) while also providing a path so that their actions can support a positive human rights agenda.
Human Rights First has worked on the following multi-stakeholder initiatives to engage the business community on human rights:
- Fair Labor Association (FLA) to promote and safeguard labor rights in apparel and footwear manufacturing.
- Global Network Initiative (GNI) to protect freedom of expression and privacy rights in the Internet and communications sector.
- Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights to help develop a set of standards to address the right to life and personal security in the extractives sector.
Given their increasing influence in both developed and emerging economies, companies can serve as an effective wedge to push back on repressive or unfair practices by government or other non-state actors that violate international human rights standards.
Human Rights First believes collaboration of this kind – with its inherent healthy tensions – is essential for real and practical change.