Human rights are basic rights and freedoms to which all humans are entitled to regardless of national origin, race, gender or other differences. The United Nations’ key document entitled “The Universal Declaration of Human Rights” outlines commonly agreed upon human rights including the rights to security, liberty, equality, political expression, welfare and due process. Many companies recognize that respect for human rights is a fundamental part of being a responsible business and have begun to integrate human rights considerations into their mainstream decision-making. As a result there is a growing aspiration globally to understand more clearly where human rights challenges may lie in existing and future business operations, rather than simply reacting to individual challenges as they arise.

Companies often begin with a Human Rights Impact Assessment (HRIA) to more fully understand potential risks and where they need to strengthen their commitments and management. HRIAs help companies work through their responsibilities in supporting and protecting human rights and the complementary roles of government and civil society. Human rights considerations reach into all areas of a company from core operations, to labor and human resources, to employment and procurement and to interactions with government and communities. A number of excellent resources exist to guide companies through this new and emerging field. Resources about security are included, especially as they intersect with issues of human rights.