Risk of human rights abuse in supply chain on the increase

Will Green is news editor of Supply Management
4 December 2013

The number of countries deemed to be an “extreme risk” for human rights abuses has increased by 70 per cent since 2008.

According to Maplecroft’s Human Rights Risk Atlas, the number of countries in the category has risen from 20 to 34.

Countries that have seen the worst deterioration in their human rights since 2008 include war-torn Syria, which is ranked at number one out of 197 nations, Egypt, Libya, Mali and Guinea-Bissau.

The key emerging economies of Nigeria, India, the Philippines and Indonesia have also dropped into the worst category. MENA and other African countries account for the majority of the increase.

Maplecroft said factors in the rise in locations of increased risk included repression of freedom of speech, ethnic and sectarian conflicts, lack of worker protection, and competition for land and water between local populations and industrial business users.

The company said: “China remains in the extreme risk category, but has shown one of biggest improvements in working conditions, unlike other key supply chain countries, such as Bangladesh, Cambodia and Vietnam.”

Lizabeth Campbell, head of societal risk and human rights at Maplecroft, said: “Since 2008, global economic growth and investment has shifted to new markets prompting a demand for low-cost workers, water and land as well as other natural resources.

“In many of these markets, human rights violations continue to get worse. Workers’ rights are seriously compromised, rural and indigenous communities face grave violations related to land grabs and forced displacement, particularly where their land ownership is not formally documented.

“Increasingly, repressive or corrupt governments clamp down on human rights, particularly freedom of expression, to maintain their grip on power and economic control. Companies cannot rely on robust governance and remedy structures in these markets, which means the onus is on them directly to implement appropriate levels of due diligence and mitigating action.”

The top 10 countries for human rights abuses are:

1. Syria

2. Sudan

3. Democratic Republic of Congo

4. Pakistan

5. Somalia

6. Afghanistan

7. Iraq

8. Myanmar

9. Yemen

10. Nigeria

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