International Human Rights Day- Is Your Organization Doing What Needs to be Done?

December 10 is International Human Rights Day.  It is a time for us to reflect upon the human rights we enjoy here in Canada, to advocate for others who do not enjoy these basic rights, and to highlight specific issues of concern wherever they may be found.

This year has special significance as it is the 20th anniversary of the establishment of the mandate of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. Each year International Human Rights Day has a theme and for 2013 the emphasis is on the future and identifying the challenges that lie ahead in this area.

International Human Rights Day commemorates the day in 1948 when the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The formal inception of Human Rights Day dates from 1950, after the Assembly passed resolution 423(V) inviting all countries and interested organizations to adopt 10th December of each year as Human Rights Day.


An interesting fact, with a local tie in for those of us in Atlantic Canada,  is that John P. Humphrey, a native New Brunswicker from Hampton, NB was the author of the first draft of the Declaration!

Two points should be noted.  The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was one of the first major achievements of the United Nations. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is also one of the world’s most translated document into more than 360 language versions- a world record!

So what does this mean for your organization? On June 16, 2011 the UN Human Rights Council unanimously endorsed the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, providing a framework for organizations to strengthen their approach to demonstrating respect for human rights. What should you be doing? Just make sure you’ve started!  The Guiding Principle sets out the basics: You need a policy that speaks to respecting human rights. Even something basic is good as long as it talks to potential human rights impacts in the workplace and the communities in which you do business.

  • You need a human rights due diligence process to identify, prevent or reduce potential human rights impacts.
  • You need processes to deal with impacts when they are identified.
  • You need to ‘know and show’ that you respect human rights.

How’s your company stack up against these Guiding Principles? If you like to assess the strength of your current employee policies & processes and how your organization operates related to the Guiding Principles call us today at 902-877-1887 or send us an email by completing the form below:

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One Response to International Human Rights Day- Is Your Organization Doing What Needs to be Done?

  1. Global Human Resource Management 2013/12/16 at 5:37 am #

    We’re in agreement that HR must move beyond operational activities to be considered a strategic contributor. I also like your additions to the list, particularly bravery. I think that’s an important component for any leader who is taking action to effect change!

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