Contribution to the EU Multi-stakeholder Forum on CSR

The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) is an international NGO gathering together 155 national human rights organizations throughout the world. FIDH is working for the respect of all human rights enshrined in the 1948 Universal Declaration, civil and political rights as well as economic, social and cultural rights. Since over a decade, FIDH has been working to enhance the responsibility of corporations with regard to human rights. FIDH has been advocating for a global instrument on business and human rights and has encouraged the European Union to adopt a regulatory framework for Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). FIDH is a member of the European Coalition for Corporate Justice (ECCJ).

Business and in particular transnational corporations have an impact - which can be both positive and negative - on the enjoyment of human rights. It is now admitted that corporations do have the responsibility to, at least, respect human rights where they operate2. However, while responsible businesses do not necessarily benefit from their efforts to respect human rights, those involved in human rights violations are not being adequately sanctioned. Some examples: a number of European businesses have adopted codes of conduct and monitoring systems, however it is nearly impossible for the consumers to distinguish between window dressing initiatives and truly responsible policies of companies. As a result, good players are not advantaged by the market. On the contrary, companies involved in human rights violations remain largely unpunished: when European companies supply authoritative regimes with technologies enabling the control and repression of dissenting voices, they are not sanctioned for complicity in human rights violations. FIDH believes that market pressures and voluntary CSR initiatives alone are not sufficient to make companies respect human rights.

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