Human Rights Violations: Who Is Responsible?

Businesses impacts human rights, whether for good (employment, development etc.) or for bad (corruption, pollution, child labor etc.)

Companies, are global, meaning they get resources from all over the world. Including countries with poor infrastructure, lack of government, post conflict countries. More often than not, these governments barely function as is.

In these types of situations you wonder, who is responsible for human rights violations...the company, or the government?

For example, if a person is ‘hired’ in a clothing manufacturing warehouse is working 40-70 hours a week at minimum wage and yet still are living in shambling poverty. We have to ask, who is responsible? The company for paying such low wages, or the government for setting the bar so low?

In 2011, the UN put out guiding principles, 3 pillars, for dealing with human rights violations.

1. Pillar 1 is ‘State Duty to Protect.’ Governments must make sure companies are not violating human rights. Passing laws isn’t enough, they must be enforced.

2. Pillar 2 is ‘Corporate Responsibility to Respect.’ Companies must not violate any human rights. They are responsible to up keep all human rights, no matter what bars are set by the government.

3. Pillar 3 is ‘Access to Remedy.’ When something goes wrong, human rights are violated, there must be a process to provide ‘remedy.’ It must be effective, and easily accessible.

These principles were unanimously voted in by the United Nations. They help us understand who is responsible, and how we can keep them responsible for their actions.

If we have to be honest with ourselves, there are so many companies that are not living up to these standards (cough cough Walmart, Old Navy, Banana Republic, Forever 21, cough cough).

But what can be done?

- Write the CEO’s of organization, and tell them you don’t support violations of human rights.

- Sign our petition to crack down on corrupt companies

- Shop at stores that are actually ethical!

- STOP shopping at stores that are not ethical or have knowingly/willfully supported human rights violations

As Christians, we cannot be ignorant to these issues. In all we do our prayer is ‘In our lives and in our prayers, may Your Kingdom come.’

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