Every Dec. 10, to mark human rights day, the Institute for Human Rights and Business (IHRB), publishes a list of the top 10 business and human rights priorities for the coming year.
IHRB’s annual list aims to assist businesses, governments, and civil society organizations to determine their strategies for responding to some of the biggest human rights challenges anticipated over the next 12 months.
The human rights challenges expected in 2017 reflect a stark shift in social, political and economic drivers at the global level. At risk is the erosion of an international system upholding human rights protections and the rule of law, which can impact societies, economies, and businesses.
A difficult truth that has become very clear in 2016 is that we have really all failed, those of us who have been working on human rights issues around business for the past 15 years, to communicate the relevance to wider society.
This new era of growing nationalist, populist, and protectionist politics has dramatically changed the rhetoric behind forthcoming economic, trade, and investment agreements between nations, behind leadership to level global supply chains, behind refugee strategies, behind legal accountability mechanisms for business, and more.
And the rights implications are enormous. Basic protections for the workers and communities are at risk, which will be eroded if perceived as barriers to new jobs and reinvigorated economies.
More fundamentally, the extreme inequality we see in the world today represents both a cause and a result of a global failure to uphold basic rights and human dignity. These types of rights impacts drive inequality. At the same time, unequal societies are more likely to pose challenges to rights protections.
The human rights movement faces a difficult future in 2017, and it is up to all of us—civil society, governments as well as businesses—to champion the issues people care about and make human rights relevant to peoples’ daily lives.
IHRB’s Top 10 Business and Human Rights Issues for 2017 are:
• INEQUALITY: The business role
• GIG ECONOMY: The rise of Internet-enabled work
• REFUGEES: Setting strategies with business
• TRADE DEALS: Upholding human rights in a new era
• SUPPLY CHAINS: Leveling the playing field
• INFORMED CONSENT: The realm of big data
• ACCOUNTABILITY MECHANISMS: Gathering momentum
• FREE SPEECH: Responsibility in the age of social media
• CONSTRUCTION WORKERS: Building the world’s infrastructure
• AUTOMATION: Preserving workers’ rights
The Top 10 in its entirety is at www.ihrb.org/library/top-10/top-ten-issues-in-2017.
—John Morrison, chief executive, Institute for Human Rights and Business