Sweden – SOE

1. The State duty to protect human rights

The State’s role in protecting human rights [page 9]

In its role as owner, the State acts to ensure that state-owned companies set a good example in the area of CSR and that their conduct in general instils public confidence, for example by striving to comply with international guidelines such as the UN Guiding Principles.

Annex: Measures taken

The State as owner [pages 23-24]

According to the government state ownership policy, state-owned companies are expected to set a good example, which means that they must seek to comply with international guidelines such as the UN Global Compact, the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, and the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises. They must also be transparent and report in accordance with the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI). State-owned companies must also identify areas of CSR that are relevant to their business strategy and the board of directors must set strategic sustainability targets. The ownership policy applies in companies where the State is the majority owner; in other companies, where the State is part-owner, the State seeks to ensure that the ownership policy is followed, in dialogue with other owners.

The Government has held seminars for the chairs of boards and managing directors of all state-owned companies on the Government’s expectations regarding the companies’ application of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. A study was carried out in 2013 on the international guidelines from the UN and the OECD, aimed at facilitating companies’ application of the state ownership policy.

A CSR network has been established for the discussion of relevant CSR-related issues and to allow companies to exchange knowledge and experience. The international guidelines with which the companies are expected to comply were discussed at one of the network meetings. The Government Offices corporate management organisation has also held a workshop for the companies on the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.

 A business analysis tool that sheds light on relevant areas of CSR, including human rights, has been developed for state-owned companies by the Government Offices corporate management organisation. The analysis increases the owner’s awareness of the companies’ risks and opportunities and how these can be managed. The result of the analysis is integrated in corporate governance and taken into account in the Government’s regular dialogue with the company, in monitoring the company’s development, and in the recruitment and nomination of board members. • Like other state-owned companies, Swedfund International AB (Swedfund) and the Swedish Export Credit Corporation (SEK) are required to comply with the government state ownership policy for CSR, as described above. Moreover, Swedfund and SEK have social mandates specially adopted by the Riksdag. Swedfund is required to ensure that its investments comply with international standards and CSR principles, within clear and sound corporate structures that do not contribute to tax evasion, money laundering or terrorist financing. SEK is required to take account of conditions such as the environment, corruption, human rights and working conditions in its credit assessments.

Annex: Measures planned

The Government aims to raise its ambitions in foreign trade, including in CSR and implementation of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. To achieve these aims, a number of concrete measures will be implemented by 2017.

The State as owner [page 29]

CSR will continue to be an integral part of the Government’s active corporate governance of state-owned companies. The human rights work undertaken by state-owned companies will be examined in relevant cases in the sustainability analysis and followed up in stakeholder dialogues between representatives of the owner and the companies.

Knowledge about the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, due diligence and redress mechanisms will be promoted in state-owned companies through a series of workshops. Each occasion will provide an opportunity for experience exchange between the companies and highlight tools and good practices for implementation by the companies in their own operations.

The Government will work to increase knowledge about the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights in stateowned companies and will ensure that these companies, where appropriate, conduct human rights due diligence in order to assess and address any significant risk to human rights.