Business and Human Rights

Businesses are obligated to ensure that their operations do not cause human rights violations. KIOS supports local organisations which report human rights violations caused by business operations, and defend the rights of people if businesses have trampled on them.

Business operations impact human rights in many different ways. In poor countries, land rights are often vital to peoples’ livelihoods. Oil drilling, the mining industry and various infrastructure projects affect the land rights of local people and may lead to forced evictions. Polluting factories and environmental degradation threaten people’s right to a healthy and safe environment. Businesses may trample on employees’ rights, particularly in the case of a persons in a vulnerable position such as migrant workers.

Corporate accountability strengthens human rights

Corporate accountability means the understanding of a company of the positive and negative impact of its operations on society and its responsibility for monitoring the ethics of the entire production cycle. This means that businesses must also prevent human rights violations in the operation of subcontractors.

More and more attention is being paid to the role of companies in Finland and around the world, because business operations cause many human rights violations. On the other hand, businesses also have plenty of opportunities to promote the realisation of human rights, for example, by strengthening the livelihood of communities or by hiring people from groups that are discriminated against in society.

People with signs and one person holding a microphone

CJGEA defends the right to a clean and healthy environment in Kenya. Photo: CJGEA

Organisations defend the weakest

KIOS supports local human rights actors in East Africa and South Asia who defend communities or workers whose rights are threatened by businesses. Organisations may report possible environmental issues or human rights violations and enter into dialogue with businesses and the authorities. Some activists we support campaign in their communities to increase the awareness of the impact of business operations. They may document human rights violations, so that businesses and authorities monitoring them can be held accountable. Some take the cases to court to defend the rights of local people.

In Kenya, KIOS has supported the fight of a community threatened by the lethal lead emissions from a metal smelter next to their homes. Read more about their achievements

In Uganda, an organisation supported by KIOS mobilised rural communities to oppose a private company’s exclusive right to use crater lakes. In Uganda, KIOS has also supported the cooperation of organisations in promoting corporate accountability and work to defend the rights of locals in the oil industry area.

In Nepal, KIOS has supported the rights of migrants and work promoting the land rights of indigenous people.