The Human Rights and Business Department offers an essential service to the field of human rights. Where other organizations tell corporations, “Here’s why you should protect human rights”, the Department says “Here’s how”.
Julian Kassum, International Chamber of Commerce
Who are we?
The chief objective of the Danish Institute for Human Rights (DIHR) is to promote and develop knowledge about human rights on a national, regional and international basis, predicated on the principles that human rights are universal, mutually interdependent and interrelated.
The Human Rights and Business Department is a specialized unit within DIHR focussing on the role of the private sector in respecting human rights. It is one of the largest teams of human rights specialists dedicated exclusively to the area of business and human rights. In addition, it is supported by, and has the institutional backing of a leading National Human Rights Institution with sector, thematic and geographic expertise.
Being embedded in a leading national human rights institution gives the Human Rights and Business Department a number of advantages. First, all Department initiatives benefit from an internationally renowned research staff, contributing cutting-edge, interdisciplinary expertise to issues that have previously been examined only within the academic field. Second, the Department is able to observe the development and assessment of human rights projects around the world, and apply those methodologies to the business context. This wide range of projects forms a basis of experience that the Department adapts and applies to business. From this foundation, projects can be developed quickly, based on existing models, and draw upon experts in a wide range of geographic and topic areas.
Who do we work with?
In addition to our direct work with companies, we also engage in partnerships with a wide range of human rights organisations and institutions. This keeps us connected to human rights developments around the world, and allows us to gather and utilize human rights information from the communities that are directly affected by business activity.
Our human rights partners include the UN Global Compact, developing country human rights organisations, Western-based NGOs working with business and more than 100 National Human Rights Institutions.
What do we do?
For more information, see Corporate Engagement.
The Human Rights Compliance Assessment , is the most comprehensive available tool for companies to check their performance on human rights. Company managers or company compliance officers can examine company operations and policies, and benchmark company performance against more than 80 international human rights conventions covering all internationally recognised human rights.
For more information, see Human Rights Compliance Assessment
The Country Portal reports describe human rights challenges in law and practice in the world’s most high-risk, investment-relevant emerging economies. The reports cover all rights and their potential proximity to companies, and also include Sector Analyses and Supplier Risk sections. Country Risk Assessments can be tailored to company sector or region.
For more information, see Country Portal
Capacity building projects gather business leaders and NGOs for training and experience-sharing in the local business environment in developing countries. This increases companies’ capacity to develop human rights practices, and also increases local NGOs’ capacity to respond to the concerns of business. This program has been piloted in China, South Africa and the Balkans, and is being developed for additional countries and regions.
For more information, see Capacity Building
The Danish Institute for Human Rights (DIHR) is an independent, national human rights institution (NHRI), accredited as being compliant with the United Nations (UN) Paris Principles. DIHR carries on the mandate vested in the Danish Centre for Human Rights in 1987. This encompasses research, education and the implementation of national and international programmes. DIHR’s mandate was confirmed by legislative statute in 2012.
DIHR cooperates with public and private organisations and authorities, as well as with the Council of Europe, the EU, the OSCE, the UN, the World Bank and a range of international donors. DIHR has more than 100 employees and in 2012 had an annual budget of €16 million.
National human rights institutions and businesses
Further, in 2011, the UN Human Rights Council unanimously endorsed the UN Guiding Principles on Human Rights and Business, which recognize the role of NHRIs in relation to business and human rights with reference to each of the three pillars of the UN “Protect, Respect and Remedy” Framework on Business and Human Rights:
Pillar 1 - State Duty to Protect : NHRIs have a mandate to review the fulfilment by the State of its duty to protect rights-holders from human rights infringements by business
Pillar 2 - Corporate Responsibility to Respect : NHRIs have a mandate to provide expert advice and guidance to business regarding human rights issues
Pillar 3 - Access to Remedy : NHRIs have a mandate to provide non-judicial grievance mechanisms for actual or threatened human rights infringement by the corporate sector.
In addition, Human Rights Council Resolution 17/4, which endorsed the Guiding Principles, explicitly affirms the role of NHRIs regarding business and human rights. Finally, the 2012 law on establishing the Danish Institute for Human Rights as Denmark’s National Human Rights Institute serves to further recognize DIHR’s mandate with regard to private sector actors.
DIHR and the Human Rights and Business Department are non-profit entities. Donors include Denmark’s development cooperation, DANIDA, the Council of Europe, the European Commission, the UN and the World Bank. The majority of funding of the Human Rights and Business Department comes directly from projects and partnerships with companies. All revenues from consultancies are directly reinvested in Department research and other work to promote human rights in the business sphere.
For more information on the Department or our work, contact Katja Tolstrup.