Human Rights Due Diligence: Can My Business Start By Focusing On One Or A Few Human Rights?
by Lise Smit
Businesses embarking on human rights due diligence for the first time often assume that they need to focus only on those human rights which are associated with risks in their particular sector. For example, information technology companies may only concern themselves with privacy rights, or pharmaceutical companies may view the right to health to be their most important focal point.
It is true that certain issues are closely associated with certain sectors. For example, the garment industry is often linked to concerns over unsafe working conditions, whereas extractive companies frequently face allegations relating to private security, land grabs and environmental damage. These connotations are reinforced through headline-making court cases or tragic events such as the Rana Plaza factory collapse.
However, it is unwise to choose only one human right and exclude the others from the due diligence process. Human rights are interrelated and often go hand-in-hand.
Lise Smit is Research Fellow in Business and Human Rights at the British Institute of International and Comparative Law (BIICL), where one of her projects is on corporate human rights due diligence.