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The “why”, “what” and “how” of human rights in business

The perspective raises a few key questions for the lawyer to bear in mind.

Where, after all, do universal human rights begin?” “In small places, close to home” “they are” - among others – “the factory, farm, or office where he [she] works. Such are the places where every man, woman, and child seeks equal justice, equal opportunity, equal dignity without discrimination” (Eleanor Roosevelt, Paris, 1948).

We are entering an interesting and important time. Very few businesses would state that human rights are not their concern and a growing number are actively engaging the issue.

Business is an essential ingredient in the provision of such public rights in most parts of the world.

Good work has been done: there are a number of sector-specific initiatives, principles and codes, which explain how human rights relate to business and to specific business operations.

Human rights have been widely interpreted in their strict legal sense or in a wider moral fashion by civil society. What has been missing is a central path of pragmatic application within the day-to-day operations of complex businesses operations.

All we need is an exponential growth in the scope and quality of the activities and initiatives. Our goal is to inspire, to bring new hope and new determination to lawyers who are committed to the real-life application of the principles of human rights and the rule of law throughout the world.

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