This blog was originally published on the FCPA Blog, which was discontinued in February 2024.

What is the responsibility and possible criminal liability of companies and their officials relating to human right violations allegedly committed abroad?

Should a CEO for example step down when a violation of financial or other conduct rules has occurred, which may even make the corporation complicit in terrorism financing or war crimes? Or should prosecution be a consequence of such transgression?

In 2020, the Basel Institute on Governance with the support of the Siemens Integrity Initiative launched a series of roundtable discussions that brought companies together to analyse the potential nexus between corporate efforts to protect human rights and prevent corruption.

The International Organisation of Employers (IOE), Business at OECD (BIAC) and BusinessEurope, their member federations and the tens of millions of companies they represent have been deeply engaged in the promotion and implementation of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. The tenth anniversary of the UN Guiding Principles this year is an important moment for stocktaking and re-focusing efforts to strengthening their uptake. 

Human rights are a key concern for business. As the global voice of business, IOE is deeply engaged in the business and human rights agenda and strongly supports the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs). The UNGPs were endorsed by the UN Human Rights Council in its resolution 17/4 of 16 June 20111.

Written inputs to inform the Human Rights Council

This note provides written inputs on question 4 and question 5 of the call for inputs published by the United Nations Human Rights Council Working Group on Business and Human Rights. It relates to the February 2020 multi-stakeholder consultation on connecting the business and human rights and anti-corruption agendas.

Report of the Working Group on the issue of human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises

This report was prepared pursuant to United Nations Human Rights Council resolutions 17/4 and 35/7. It was presented at the forty-fourth session of the Human Rights Council on 15 June–3 July 2020 during agenda item 3: Promotion and protection of all human rights, civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, including the right to development. 

Our Collective Action team is working with companies to find synergies in human rights and anti-corruption compliance.

The idea: Companies invest significant resources in anti-corruption and human rights compliance programmes, often developing them separately. We believe there are synergies between these areas that will contribute to the effectiveness and cost efficiencies of both programmes.

Gemma Aiolfi, Head of Compliance and Collective Action, will explore some thorny areas of anti-corruption and human rights risk assessment and compliance during a forthcoming virtual “pre-evening dialogue” of the UN Global Compact Network in Switzerland and Liechtenstein.

The focus is on small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) with limited resources to address due diligence, and more broadly compliance risks. The topic, though, is relevant to all companies who need to address both corruption and human rights risks in their international business operations.

The Basel Institute on Governance is pleased to announce that it has received renewed funding to deepen its anti-corruption Collective Action work from the Siemens Integrity Initiative’s Third Funding Round. The project will run from 2019 through 2024 and will be implemented in collaboration with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).