Missions told to keep an eye on businessDecember 2009
The UK government has issued a Business and Human Rights Toolkit for its overseas missions.
The 21-page document, published last month, contains guidance for UK embassies and other government bodies on implementing the Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises issued by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, and outlines UK policy on business and human rights.
The document advises government officials to make their work on human rights focus more explicitly on the impacts of business, to concentrate more on promoting the OECD guidelines, and including business and human rights topics in their general work plans.
The guidance comes from four UK government departments – the foreign office, trade and investment, and the departments for business and international development.
Measures recommended include: the use of in-country networks to share information on UK companies’ performance; the immediate reporting of bribery to the UK’s Serious Fraud Office; the lobbying of host governments to ensure human rights are protected against irresponsible business practices, and the development of contacts with local human rights defenders, trade unions and non-governmental organizations.
UK officials overseas are also encouraged to share any information relevant to a complaint against a company under the OECD guidelines with the UK’s National Contact Point, ‘irrespective of whether it supports or undermines the allegations ’.
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