ICC hails 60th anniversary of Universal Declaration of Human Rights

  • 10 December 2008

ICC is honoring the occasion 60 years ago today, when the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was voted unanimously by the United Nations.

The celebration caps a year-long series of events by the United Nations to help people everywhere learn about the Declaration. Considered one of the most influential documents in history, the Declaration was the first international recognition that all human beings have fundamental rights and freedoms, and has served as the foundation for many international treaties and national laws to protect and promote human rights.

Addressed to “every organ of society”, the Declaration is increasingly used by companies around the world as a basis for defining their own responsibilities regarding human rights, including political and civil rights, as well as economic and social rights.

Coinciding with its support for this momentous occasion, ICC has issued a policy statement developed by the ICC Commission on Business in Society. The statement, which describes the role and responsibilities of business in relation to human rights, highlights the positive steps companies have taken to act as good corporate citizens and respect human rights in the context of their business activities.

Companies all over the world during the past decade have been developing human rights policies and practices, and have made efforts to increase transparency and improve governance to be more sensitive to their impact as producers, employers, and customers.

The ICC policy statement points out that the most pressing issue today for the full respect of human rights worldwide remains the failure or inability of governments to protect human rights.

“On the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, business calls for stronger involvement by governments, in all parts of the world, to uphold their international human rights commitments,” said Guy Sebban, ICC Secretary General.

To draw attention to the proactive stance of business on human rights, ICC is sending the policy statement to UN permanent missions in Geneva, in addition to ICC member companies, and to ICC national committees for them to share with their governments.

ICC, together with other business organizations, furnishes business input to the mandate of John Ruggie, Special Representative of the UN Secretary General on business and human rights.

ICC will continue to provide feedback to Mr Ruggie for the next phase of his mandate, which will examine ways to make his proposed framework operational. The framework, which was adopted by the Human Rights Council last June, is based on three principles: the state duty to protect human rights, the corporate responsibility to protect human rights, and the need for more effective access to remedies.