3. The Corporate responsibility to respect human rights

3.5 Compliance with legislation [page 36]:

In some geographical areas, such as conflict-affected areas, a company may unintentionally enter into a business relationship with an enterprise, such as a security company, that is guilty of gross human rights abuses. In such a situation the Norwegian company should be aware that this may have legal consequences such as liability. The Norwegian Penal Code of 2005, which entered into force on 1 October 2015, also applies to certain punishable offences committed on behalf of an enterprise registered in Norway when the offence is also punishable under the law of the country where it has been committed.

Norwegian companies that are faced with demands from the authorities in the host country that appear to be in conflict with international guidelines are encouraged to contact either the nearest Norwegian mission or the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Examples of such situations are a demand for a bribe or a request to keep certain information secret.

4. Access to Remedy

4.1 State-based grievance mechanisms

Judicial grievance mechanisms [page 40]:

The 26th principle concerns judicial mechanisms for addressing human rights abuses:

26. States should take appropriate steps to ensure the effectiveness of domestic judicial mechanisms when addressing business-related human rights abuses, including considering ways to reduce legal, practical and other relevant barriers that could lead to a denial of access to remedy.

Norway has comprehensive human rights legislation and legislation in other areas that is also applicable to CSR. We also have an effective judicial system, and the Norwegian law of damages provides for financial compensation or redress under certain conditions.

Norwegian companies may become involved in legal cases dealing with human rights abuses in the host country. If the case is to be brought before a Norwegian court, it must satisfy the requirement in the Dispute Act that the facts of the case ‘have a sufficiently strong connection to Norway’. In order to determine whether the connection is sufficiently strong, an overall evaluation must be made of all the circumstances in the case that includes both judicial and other relevant circumstances. There are also other conditions for bringing a case before a Norwegian court.

It is important to ensure that individuals who feel that their rights have been violated have access to effective remedy. The Government will actively follow the international efforts to strengthen access to judicial grievance mechanisms at the national level.

The measures listed in the NAP regarding judicial remedy include [page 40]:

  • “Participate in international cooperation to ensure that victims of grave and systematic human rights violations as a result of business activities have access to effective remedy;
  • Support the work headed by OHCHR to strengthen national judicial systems to protect the rights of the victims of grave and systematic human rights violations;
  • Participate in the process in the Council of Europe on following up the recommendations of the UN Guiding Principles on access to effective remedies at national level.”