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Human rights and business

Businesses' growing reach, impact and influence means there is increasing focus on their need to respect human rights.

In 2013 the UK was the first country in the world to develop a Good Business action plan (updated in 2016) on implementing the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs).

These principles outline states' and businesses' responsibilities in protecting human rights.

In 2015, the Better World Action Group commissioned a baseline assessment of the implementation of business and human rights standards in Scotland.

A team at St Andrews University, led by Professor John Ferguson, carried out the assessment using a model developed by the Danish Institute for Human Rights and the International Corporate Accountability Roundtable.

As well as desk-based research, it involves consultation with businesses and civil society organisations. The national baseline assessment of business and human rights was published in October 2016 and will form the basis for a participative process to develop a national action plan in Scotland.

The Scottish Business Pledge

The Scottish Business Pledge is a voluntary agreement made by companies that want to ensure their actions are based on fairness, equality, opportunity and innovation.

This includes respecting and promoting human rights by:

  • paying the living wage
  • not using exploitative zero-hours contracts
  • making progress on diversity and gender balance