Pillar II baselines: Human rights as a moral and ethical obligation
Scope and content of the obligation to respect human rights
What human rights? [page 30]
These rights are fleshed out in a series of other specific instruments, such as the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises.
…As for the external impacts of a business’s operations, this might encompass forced land seizure and population displacement, the ban on requisitioning or destroying natural resources that are vital to a local community, and the ban on destroying cultural heritage.
Due diligence [page 34]
An effective due diligence mechanism should meet the following criteria:…
- Engage the public directly concerned, stakeholders in the community and vulnerable groups in the formation of the mechanism.
Public engagement can take many forms. First of all, this may entail consultations with those affected by businesses’ operations (holders of human rights) because these people are best placed to highlight the problems looming over them. Likewise, employees should be involved as they need to know how to deal with the knowledge they accrue in their work. Finally, public engagement may comprise external expert opinions, opposing views, etc.
Transparent consultation of matters of general interest [page 29]
If a business is preparing a major project that could be linked – even if only potentially – with human rights risks, open communication with all stakeholder groups is recommended. Negotiations should be guided by the following principles:
- They should take place sufficiently early on.
- The top management, or at least those with enough decision-making powers, should be involved.
- The form taken by the negotiations should reflect the seriousness of the risks, the scale of the project, and the addressees’ abilities and capacities (an online form, public meetings, personal visits).
- Plain language should be used in the negotiations. Complex legal or economic language may not be understood by the uninitiated and could be misinterpreted as an effort to conceal something.
If the direct participation of a particular group is impossible, communication with their representatives or with experts familiar with the situation is an option.