The Business Leaders Initiative on Human Rights (BLIHR)
The work and contribution of this initiative is certainly valuable alone for not insisting on regarding the responsibilities of business as strictly voluntary, as well as for its disposition to test the draft of the Norms. To be sure, its position could be considered broadly as a middle ground between the purely mercantilist position of most companies and the prevailing vision in civil society on a global scale. It is undoubtedly worthy of praise for this sole reason.
This reason notwithstanding, the initiative persists on placing the interests of the owners of the market and their corporations above people and planet. This is how the Guide for Integrating HR in Business is a unilateral exercise that, despite of its development in conjunction with the Office of the HR High Commissioner and the Office of the Global Compact, remains a vision completely biased in favour of business. Indeed, whilst one can find in report #3 some consideration for accepting civil society as a direct interlocutor, the Guide conveys the same mercantilist vision given that it is positioned as an instrument to be used by business without external input. Not in vain we have already seen that the UN organisms clearly share the same market vision and clearly favour its demands, particularly the Global Compact. Therefore, the BLIHR is still very distant from adequately responding to social demands. Assuming that it is interested in reconciling positions, the only way of getting closer to society’s position is by getting rid of its mercantilist approach and by clearly placing society above the market. Human rights cannot be a factor for competing, nor can they be conditioned to market guarantees, nor addressed as elements adding value to business. In sync with the UN and its guild’s vision, the question of HR in business continues to be a question in which the State is responsible for HR protection, while concurrently the true question –about making companies responsible for their own actions through tough laws– is evaded. In this way, it is important to make emphasis of the absolute absence of the democratic context in its entire assessment.
Accordingly, the first thing society should demand from the BLIHR member corporations as well as from the entire business community and the UN, is that they do their work from the context of true democracy. For, otherwise, their positions will hardly be reconciled with civil society’s demands, which require a stop to the systematic, premeditated and perverse violation of HR across the entire business ethos. The BLIHR ceased activities in 2009.
To access the detailed assessment of the BLIHR from the perspective of TJSGA downlaod our Business and Human Rights study. by cliking here or on the picture. (includes a full chapter to assess this initiative).
The Business Leaders Initiative on Human Rights is a programme to help lead and develop the corporate response to human rights. It is a business-led programme with 13 corporate members.
BLIHR is chaired by Mary Robinson, President of Realizing Rights: The Ethical Globalization Initiative, former President of Ireland and former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. The programme was created in 2003 and will end in March 2009.
Our principal purpose is to find "practical ways of applying the aspirations of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights within a business context and to inspire other businesses to do likewise". In our second three-year period until 2009 we are committed to sharing our tools and experiences not only within the group but with all interested companies.
Click here to downlaod the BLIHR. A Guide for Integrating Human Rights into Business Management.
Click here to download the BLIHR. Report 3: Towards a ‘Common Framework’ on Business and Human Rights: Identifying Components.
Click here to download the BLIHR. A Human Rights Matrix.