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UN experts: Davos should address global risks rooted in human rights abuse

GENEVA (23 January 2018) – As global leaders converge in Davos for the World Economic Forum, a group of United Nations experts called attention to the critical importance of human rights to the Forum’s objective of “Creating a Shared Future in a Fractured World”.

“What we are seeing in the world today is the economically disenfranchised yearning for a fairer economic system that spreads the rewards of economic development to all,” said Anita Ramasastry, who chairs the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights.

“The inclusion of human rights objectives into political and economic decisions are crucial if economic reforms are to tackle the root causes of populism, global unrest, climate change and inequality”, she added.

The experts stressed how Government and business leaders meeting in Davos wield the power and influence to set the world on a more inclusive and sustainable path. They recalled how world leaders had pledged “to realize the human rights of all” and “to leave no one behind” as core aspirations of United Nation Sustainable Development Goals to be achieved by 2030, and called on business leaders to support this pledge.

“Governments and businesses should use the occasion of Davos to announce concrete actions to bring about positive change”, the experts said.

“First of all, Governments and businesses must act in accordance with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights by taking steps to respect the rights of workers across supply chains and avoid that business operations cause or contribute to adverse human rights impacts”.

The experts welcomed that the 2018 World Economic Forum includes a session on the “Global Prospects for Human Rights”, on the occasion of this year’s 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. At the same time, they regretted that human rights were inadequately captured in the World Economic Forum Global Risk Report 2018, released on 17 January 2018.

“We call on Governments and business leaders at Davos to remind reach other that human rights are not a fringe issue but at the very core of what needs to be done to address the most pressing global risks,” the experts concluded.

ENDS

See Working Group’s 10 key recommendations on the role of business in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

The UN Working Group on human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises was established by the UN Human Rights Council in June 2011. Its current members are: Ms. Anita Ramasastry (current Chairperson), Mr. Michael Addo, Mr. Surya Deva, Mr. Dante Pesce (current Vice-Chairperson) and Mr. Pavel Sulyandziga.

The Working Groups are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent human rights monitoring mechanisms. The Working Groups report to the Human Rights Council and to the UN General Assembly. Special Procedures mandate-holders are independent human rights experts appointed by the Human Rights Council to address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. The experts are not UN staff and are independent from any government or organization. They serve in their individual capacity and do not receive a salary for their work

For additional information and media requests please contact:
Working Group Secretariat (+41 22 917 9323 / wg-business@ohchr.org)

For media inquiries about other UN experts please contact:
Jeremy Laurence (+41 22 9179383 / jlaurence@ohchr.org)

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