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Article

1 Mar 2021

Author:
UNDP (B+HR in Asia Team) and UNICEF

UNDP and UNICEF publish updated guidance for companies on managing human rights impacts linked to business activities during COVID-19

'Human Rights Due Diligence and COVID-19: Rapid Self-Assessment for Business', 1 March 2021

The socio-economic shocks resulting from the global spread of COVID-19 come at a time of growing inequality, political instability, and ecological fragility. In this context, vulnerable and marginalized groups are hit particularly hard, with fewer resources to protect themselves from health risks, to access healthcare, or to pay for essential goods. Employers too, face significant pressures to protect their employees amid cancelled orders, a shortage of supplies, and the spread of infection.

Still, many businesses have risen to the challenge posed by COVID-19 by contributing medical supplies, implementing worker well-being initiatives, and offering support to impacted communities. These businesses deserve abundant praise, and indeed, this document is inspired in part by actual commitments and actions by businesses. However, leading firms also understand that they must go beyond contributions and address any negative impacts recent changes in their operations may be having on society and the environment. These companies understand that demonstrating respect for human rights, especially in the midst of harsh economic circumstances, is a strong reflection on their core values. They understand that preventing, mitigating and addressing adverse human rights impacts is key to maintaining trust—with clients, consumers, employees, shareholders, and communities—long after the crisis has passed.

The Human Rights Due Diligence and COVID-19: Rapid Self-Assessment for Business (C19 Rapid Self-Assessment), provides guidance to businesses who are seeking to manage the human rights impacts of their operations during the COVID-19 pandemic.

This non-exhaustive list of recommended actions allows for rapid but continuous reflection on the human rights risks and impacts common to many industries. The list is an updated and extended version of the C19 Rapid Self-Assessment published in April 2020 by UNDP, and it is informed by the relevant provisions of UN Human Rights Treaties, the ILO Fundamental Conventions, guidance from UNICEF and the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs). Admittedly, some of the actions may require a business to go beyond what is required by national law and reach for the highest level of due diligence...

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