At CRB, we understand Business and Human Rights are integral to the realization of India’s Constitutional vision of equitable and sustainable growth for all. For any economy to be resilient, it should be founded on just & fair inter-relationships. In India, the centrality of this philosophy is embodied in the Constitution as part of the fundamental rights & directive principles. Today, in the wake of the COVID19 pandemic, we find business & human rights at the heart of the ensuing humanitarian crises. Globally, the pandemic has exposed & accentuated the fault lines that exist in our current growth/development models. There is a crying need to redefine growth and bring human rights to the centre of all endeavours to restore normalcy. There is today, both among businesses and its stakeholders, a growing acknowledgement of building “businesses with a purpose” that goes beyond conventional norms of shareholder capitalism. Rising to the need of the hour, CRB has intensified it’s work on business and human rights even more & will continue to do so in the following year as well.
The business and human rights form the cornerstone of all the work undertaken by the Centre for Responsible Business, it cuts across the different thematic and operational works areas. Going forward, our endeavour will be to strengthen and diversify the vertical to include various other aspects of business and human rights.
This Factsheet provides an overview of CRB's initiatives and activities in the field of business & human rights and the way forward.
At CRB, our endeavour is to build and expand our work on business and human rights, particularly in the current context wherein securing and promoting business and human rights has assumed utmost importance.
CRB foresees taking forward its knowledge, expertise and networks built over the years and translating it into actions for promoting business and human rights across sectors. To further the understanding and application of B&HR by enterprises, CRB, in partnership with FNF, has conceptualised and developed a series of awareness building videos.
In partnership with the Committee on Sustainability Assessment (COSA), CRB studied the human rights risks and impacts in tea value chains in India and Sri Lanka through engagement with relevant industry stakeholders and ecosystem actors. CRB will also be developing a remediation framework listing all the relevant human rights risks and impacts, potential remediation measures and priority interventions in both countries.
As part of a joint initiative, three partner organisations; Friedrich Naumann Foundation (FNF), CRB and IGCC (Indo-German Chamber of Commerce), are working together to organize a series of quarterly webinars on a range of topics focusing on the different aspects of Business and Human Rights from a practitioner’s standpoint. The overall objective of the webinar series will be to provide businesses practical guidance on enhancing the adoption and integration of business and human rights in policy and practice. The series will also endeavour to build on the existing understanding of national frameworks that promote Business and Human Rights.
The series was kickstarted on the International Human Rights Day, i.e., December 10, 2020 with a focus on understanding of the UNGPs, introduction to NAP and aligning India’s journey with the substantive aspects of Pillar 2 of the UNGPs (Corporate Responsibility to Respect).
As part of CRB’s 7th flagship Annual Conference - 'India and Sustainability Standards' scheduled between October 28 to October 30, with the theme of 'Sustainability a Key to Business Resilience in an Uncertain World', CRB, in partnership with Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom (FNF) South Asia, curated a high-level panel discussion on Responsible Business particularly in the light of the recently notified disclosure and reporting guidelines (BRS) and an impending NAP. The panel attempted to weigh in on some of the ways and approaches in which professional bodies will help businesses understand and adopt the responsible practices and understand good practices adopted by progressive companies and discuss the business case for responsible conduct.
The National Action Plan (NAP) on Business and Human Rights is an evolving policy strategy developed by a state to protect against adverse human rights impacts by business enterprises in conformity with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs). As a signatory to the UNGPS, India is obligated to develop a NAP that is aligned to the UNGPs (i.e. based on the Protect-Respect-Remedy framework) and premised on the local business contexts and needs.
Since January 2020, CRB has been actively supporting the Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MoCA) in the process of developing the National Action Plan (NAP). CRB's role in supporting the Ministry in taking the NAP development forward has been multi-fold ranging from providing research support & technical inputs, facilitating multi-stakeholder consultations and meetings and offering secretarial support.
This Rights and Responsibilities (R&R) program was co-developed by leading apparel and textiles brands/buyers who source from Indian suppliers, many of who are SMEs. The aim of this intervention led by CRB, has been to help owners and managers of apparel factories understand the importance of protecting the rights of women workers, from the perspective of ensuring long-term business relations with these brands..
The Program employs five short films on key worker-centric issues – Health & Safety, Misconduct, Good Working Environment, Overtime, Worker Representation, as the primary training tool, and further provides the necessary reading & communication supporting material (in the form of a training manual and posters) and implementation support (virtual and in person) to equip and enable suppliers to effectively use these films to train factory workers, thereby driving increased awareness on their (worker) rights and responsibilities.
CRB partnered with Global March Against Child Labour (Global March) to develop a Practical Guideline for Child Friendly Supply Chains - for The Garment Sector. This Guideline has been developed to identify and mitigate human trafficking, particularly of children, girls and young women in the supply chain of the garments sector, especially for Dutch Companies with its production network in India and other developing economies. The Guidelines relies on the framework advanced by the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs) and evidences/experiences of Global March and CRB on supply chain sustainability and human rights issues in the garment supply chain.
CRB undertook a detailed human rights due diligence (HRDD) exercise to assess human rights risks associated with the engagement of a large MNC energy company with contract workers and communities across its various portfolios in India. CRB has developed a detailed and robust methodology to undertake HRDD exercise, based on international tools/methods for assisting businesses to understand current/potential human rights risks, using the UNGPs framework. A HRDD exercise is a first step to initiate actions to address human rights problems related to business operations.