(New York, 10 December 2007) – Today, celebrating the International Human Rights Day 2007, the United Nations begins a year-long campaign to mark the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and to raise awareness of the rights and aspirations embodied in the UDHR. To mark the occasion, a letter, co-signed by Louise Arbour, High Commissioner for Human Rights, and Georg Kell, Executive Director of the Global Compact, has been sent to all Global Compact participants encouraging participation in the celebration and to engage in concrete activities to advance human rights over the coming year.
The joint letter encourages participants to join the celebration of the 60th anniversary of the UDHR by raising awareness among employees, subsidiaries, business partners and other stakeholders. It also contains concrete suggestions in which the private sector can contribute, for instance through making explicit statements on human rights in their policies, volunteer to participate in case studies and sharing of good practices, engage with local networks to raise awareness on a national level, and by including human rights activities related to the anniversary in their next Communication on Progress.
Other leaders are adding their voices to the call to action. As UN Global Compact board member and President of Realizing Rights: The Ethical Globalization Initiative, Mary Robinson has noted:
“The 60th anniversary of the UDHR is a moment for reflection and for new commitments. Many companies have made significant progress over the past decade in understanding their human rights responsibilities and embedding concern for these issues into corporate operations. But the majority of companies still haven’t taken these steps. The year ahead is a time to get more companies involved. Engaging business partners and customers on human rights issues, adopting human rights policies and committing to performance measurement and reporting are some of the ways companies can show they take their responsibilities seriously.”
A growing number of tools are available to help companies engage with human rights issues. A new joint publication by the UN Global Compact Office and the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights will also be launched. “Embedding Human Rights in Business Practices II” contains case studies detailing ways in which twenty companies worldwide have incorporated human rights into their management practices.
The launch of the 60th anniversary campaign also coincides with the translation of another human rights tool. The poster “A Human Rights Framework”, which offers companies guidance on how to systematically address human rights from a management perspective, is now available in Arabic, Chinese, French, Russian and Spanish.