Business, Human Rights, and Sustainable Development
Corporate public affairs have transformed over the past two decades. This is no more apparent than around the issue of business and human rights. Companies today, especially trans- or multi-national corporations, are faced with the challenge of addressing a variety of stakeholder concerns and must adopt new, innovative, and at times collaborative public affairs strategies to prepare for the external, non-market environment. This chapter explores how the agenda of business and human rights has developed, how companies typically respond, and concludes by outlining how this issue has changed corporate public affairs. Why human rights? The human rights agenda has traditionally focused on states. Non-democratic states were the primary perpetrators of gross human rights violations. After the so-called ‘third wave’ of democracy (Huntington, 1991), beginning in the 1970s, in which democratic transitions spread across Latin America, Asia and the former Soviet Union, states and international regimes embraced new norms to ensure such widespread human rights abuses would not occur again. Business, however, is often implicated in human rights violations, too. In Guatemala, in 2005, Monterrico Metals allowed public and private security forces to use their facilities to torture local community members protesting company operations (Business and Human Rights Resource Centre, Monterrico Metals Lawsuit, 2015).
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