3 June 2013


In a statement to the 23rd meeting of the Human Rights Council in Geneva, the Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the UN, Archbishop Tomasi, called for a greater sense of corporate social and environmental responsibility.

The statement was made in the wake of the deaths of 1100 workers in the collapse of a garment factory in Dhaka, Bangladesh. The statement echoed concerns expressed by Pope Francis that too often "People are less important than the things that give profit to those who have political, social and economic power” and recalled the 2009 encyclical of Pope Benedict XVI which stressed the necessity "to recognise labour standards as an integral and important part of corporate social responsibility" and that "Freedom of association, the elimination of all forms of forced and compulsory labour, the abolition of child labour and the effective elimination of discrimination in employment and payment must be respected and enforced in all jurisdictions."

The statement also welcomed the endorsement by the UN Human Rights Council in June 2011 of the “Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights: Implementing the United Nations Protect, Respect, and Remedy Framework”  and the November 2011 release of “The Corporate Responsibility to Respect Human Rights: An interpretive Guide” by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights as important milestones in developing consensus about the role and responsibility of corporations in society.

It also urged greater transparency so that all stakeholders have the information required to make well-founded judgments about the ways in which human rights are respected and protected, better certifications and international standards to establish clear benchmarks and frameworks for monitoring those who respect human rights and social corporate responsibility and for the establishment, promotion and exchange of good and innovative practices gleaned from a wide variety of actors, in both the public and private sectors, so that a more robust respect for human rights will become a priority for all corporations.

The full statement can be viewed at the website of the Holy See Mission to the UN in Geneva

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