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6 September 2013 | Will Green
The UK government has set out guidance to help businesses integrate human rights into their operations and supply chains.
Good Business: Implementing the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights includes pledges to incorporate human rights into trade agreements and promote projects that raise awareness of the negative impacts of business activity. Also from 1 October the Companies Act will be amended so human rights issues must be disclosed as part of annual reports.
Business secretary Vince Cable said: “A stronger economy depends on investors, employees and the wider public having trust and confidence in the way companies conduct themselves both at home and abroad.
“We know that British businesses already recognise the importance of protecting human rights, but that they need clear expectations and support from government in order to consistently factor this into their operations.
“This action plan will provide British businesses with the tools to conduct responsible business in the UK, in overseas operations and within their supply chains.”
The guidance sets out how the government will protect human rights in the UK jurisdiction and support firms to do the same in their operations at home and abroad.
Foreign secretary William Hague said: “Doing business with respect for human rights matters. It’s good for people, for prosperity and for the UK.
“We believe firmly that the promotion of business and respect for human rights should go hand in hand. That’s why the UK is showing leadership in helping companies to understand it and pushing other states to follow suit.
“We now call on business to work with us to implement the action plan and I hope other countries across the world will follow our lead.”
The plan is the UK’s response to the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, an international framework outlining the role of states and firms in protecting human rights.