Given the limited financial means of the FDHT Foundation, two areas will be the main focus of attention in the years to come.
1 – The reinforcement of the right to organize within companies
Trade unionists continue to be the black sheep of companies throughout the world. They are persecuted and sometimes killed. They are still discriminated against and punished in their workplace, and even in the region in which they work. Hatred for Human Rights activists at work remains an enduring characteristic of employers the world over.
Yet the UN has identified as fundamental two inalienable workers’ rights :
• C87 Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organize, 1948, which theoretically, 150 governments have ratified (nonetheless, it must be pointed out that the USA has still not ratified),
• C98 Right to Organize and Collective Bargaining Convention, 1949, that 160 governments have ratified.
The Human Rights at Work Foundation intends to reinforce the capacity of workers’ representatives to organize at local level and within companies on the one hand, and on the other, to contribute to providing information on the non-respect of these two basic workers’ rights by employers, in particular multinationals but also local businesses.
2 – The construction of international law on corporate responsibility
Several recent studies have revealed the weakness of legal tools relating to the application of multinational companies’ social responsibilities, which cannot be enforced by the courts. A significant gap exists between the legal vision and the economic nature of large-scale operators as represented by multinational companies.
Generally speaking, the abuses and economic and social crimes perpetrated by the multinationals are committed by their local subsidiaries or by their subcontractors. Moreover, the present legal framework means that access to the courts of law in the multinationals’ countries of origin is difficult for victims in intermediate countries and is not always possible. Lastly, the States - governments of intermediate countries are sometimes involved in the non-respect of Human Rights. In the light of this, how can extraterritorial civil and penal legal possibilities be developed in a concerted manner at European, and even extraterritorial international, level ?
Furthermore, the development of corporate social responsibility involves the commitments companies make concerning their behavior towards Human Rights, workers’ rights and respect for the environment. These commitments are declarations that in general, cannot be disputed in a court of law. How can companies be made to respect the commitments subscribed to in their codes of conduct ?
CORE – the Corporate Responsability Coalition, The Reality of Rights, barriers to accessing remedies when business operates beyond borders, The London of Economics and Political Science, 2009