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UN group finds "little appreciation" by US corporations of human rights in their businesses

A sad reflection on US corporations.   A UN expert group has found that US corporations have little appreciation for human rights in their businesses.  IPS reports.

"A United Nations expert group is warning that too many gaps remain in implementing new safeguards among businesses based in the United States, both in terms of their domestic and international operations, to ensure the protection of human rights of workers and communities affected by those operations.

Two members of the U.N. Working Group on Business and Human Rights wrapped up a 10-day fact-finding mission to the United States this week, at the end of which they released initial observations. Ultimately, these will be expanded upon and finalised for presentation to the U.N. Human Rights Council in June 2014.

“It’s a sad thought that our politicians are so crooked that we have to ask the United Nations for help, but no one else will listen.” -- Junior Walk of Coal River Mountain Watch
“With a few exceptions, most companies still struggle to understand the implications of the corporate responsibility to respect human rights,” Puvan Selvanathan, the current head of the Working Group and one of the two members on the U.S. trip, said at the end of the mission “Those that do have policies in place, in turn, face the challenge of turning such policies into effective practices.”

Selvanathan and his colleague, Michael Addo, focused on gauging U.S. adherence to and regulatory changes following the 2011 adoption of the U.N. Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. These principles offer the first international standards aimed at ameliorating the negative rights impacts of global business."


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"Speaking with reporters and civil society on Wednesday, the Working Group voiced particular concerns regarding low-wage agricultural workers, lack of free and prior informed consent for Native American communities engaging with big business, and harmful practices by the domestic extractives industry.

Indeed, Selvanathan and Addo reserved some of their strongest language for these issues. For instance, they reported having heard “allegations of labour practices in low-wage industries with migrant workers, particularly within the services sector, that would be illegal under both U.S. laws and international standards.”

Such violations reportedly include violations of minimum wage requirements, wage theft and “chronic disregard for minimum health and safety measures”.

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