Responsibility Campaigners Slam Confederation of British Industry

Article excerpt

Corporate social responsibility campaigners have condemnedO the approach of UK business to human rights concerns as ill-considered and inaccurate, writes Kit Bingham.John Cridland, deputy director of the Confederation of British Industry, recently wrote to two UK government ministers urging them to reject draft UN standards on companies' human rights responsibilities. The standards would prove "absurdly onerous" and leave companies in a "legal no-man's-land," the CBI said.

Cridland argued that the new standards could make multinational companies responsible for human rights violations committed by suppliers over which they had no control. Investment in the developing world could be harmed if the standards were implemented, Cridland warned.

Brian Shaad, campaign co-ordinator at Core, the corporate responsibility advocacy group, dismissed these fears. "The CBI's response was its standard knee-jerk response to regulation," he said.

Contrary to the CBI's letter, the proposed UN human rights standardsO would carry no sanctions against companies that failed to implement them. "Unfortunately, the CBI got its facts wrong," said Shaad.

He said the norms would help companies improve their scrutiny of operations in developing markets. "The purpose of the norms is to provide companies with a framework for monitoring operations in their supply chain. …