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UN norms: A yardstick for companies' human rights responsibilities

Amnesty International UK Economic Relations Programme Director Peter Frankental said:

'International companies must now recognise their responsibilities for human rights. It is no longer possible to suggest that this rests only with governments and states.

'In a climate where international oil pipelines, for example, can have grave implications for human rights, these new UN norms provide the yardstick against which companies will be measured from now on.

'The next step must be for these basic principles, safeguards and standards to be made binding, which would require governments to pass appropriate legislation.'

The new UN Human Rights Norms and commentary provide an authoritative interpretation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948 as it applies to businesses. The Norms also incorporate international law and standards on labour rights, environment, consumer protection, bribery and corruption.

'The public is becoming increasingly aware of the impact of companies on human rights, and not only in the in the areas of diamond extraction and sports goods manufacturing. I hope this move by the UN will lead to monitoring, accountability and transparency on human rights becoming a matter of routine for reputable companies,' concluded Peter Frankental.

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