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International Human Rights Day: a global commitment

  • 10.12.2016

Celebrated every year on December 10, the International Human Rights Day serves as an occasion to recognize achievements and challenges in view of this commitment and to highlight the crucial role of businesses and organizations in this area.

Human rights are inherent to all human beings. They are universal, indivisible, interdependent and inalienable.

An international framework

The date of Human Rights Day marks the anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which was adopted on December 10, 1948 by the United Nations General Assembly. The declaration is one of the three fundamental texts of the international charter on Human Rights

  • Universal Declaration of Human Rights 
  • International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1966)
  • International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (1966)

The international framework includes other texts and treaties to protect the rights outlined in the charter. Ratifying States agree to respect Human Rights, protect individuals against Human Rights violations and satisfy these rights by adopting measures to facilitate the exercise of Human Rights. 

United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights 

In addition to the responsibilities of States, several international standards and guidelines also apply to businesses, including: 
  • OECD Guidelines for Multinational Companies (1976)
  • ILO Tripartite Declaration of Principles Concerning Multinational Enterprises (1977)
  • United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (2011)
Globalization, the increase in multinational companies and their growing role in the global economy prompted these International Organizations to create guidelines intended for businesses. These guidelines underline the need to apply Human Rights in all their operations and across their value chains.

Businesses regularly overlook Human Rights issues, as shown by the recent revelation of forced labor in the Asian shrimp industry. To take another example, if a company learns that one of its suppliers uses child labor—especially if that labor involves potentially harmful contact with chemical products—that company has a role to play in fixing the problem. 

The United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, later reiterated in the OECD Principles, now provide the standard framework in matters of Human Rights and multinational companies: they “recognize the role of business enterprises as specialized organs of society performing specialized functions, required to comply with all applicable laws and to respect human rights”, while underlining the primary responsibility of States in protecting these rights and the need to set up procedures for victims to obtain restitution. 

BNP Paribas’s commitment

The Group is committed to respecting internationally recognized Human Rights standards, while openly supporting the United Nations Guiding Principles. In 2012, our General Management signed the BNP Paribas Declaration on Human Rights, aiming to uphold these rights within its sphere of influence, including employees, suppliers, customers and communities. The bank also follows the reporting recommendations listed in its 2015 annual report (chapter 7 pages 483 to 486). 

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