Saturday, 26 November 2011

Tourism and Human Rights

This post follows from a previous post 'Travel and the Environment'...

'Tourism Concern' at the World Travel Market in London's Docklands (Nov '11):
From Kate Simon (Independent)

Tourism Concern has published a report urging the travel industry to integrate a human rights approach into its business strategies: "Business and Human Rights: Challenges and Opportunities for Tourism." While many players, large and small, are trying to acknowledge their responsibilities towards the environment, far fewer have even embraced the notion of developing a sustainable approach to the rights of workers and communities where they have business interests.

The group wants to get the industry to face the challenges and practicalities of taking seriously their corporate responsibility on human rights. So, the seminar's panel included a representative from the Kuoni Group, a holiday company that is developing a human rights policy and framework for implementation based on the Guiding Principles recently published by the United Nations.

The most important point about Tourism Concern's report is that it understands that solid reasons are needed to persuade the tourism businesses to show respect for human rights. It comprehensively lays out the key human rights issues facing tourism, as well as documenting the adverse publicity attracted by companies where they have ignored these principles.


According to Simon the report ("Why the Tourism Industry Needs to Take a Human Rights Approach: The Business Case",) is vailable at

Ecopetrol (Columbia) and Human Rights

From Richard Collings:

Colombians recently had a rare opportunity to buy a stake in the state-owned Ecopetrol company, but critics complain that it still has questions to answer over its record on human rights and the environment.

The pressure group Human Rights Watch says Ecopetrol, along with its foreign partners, has taken no action to address reports of extrajudicial executions and a massacre committed by state security forces close to their oil installations 10 years ago.

Read more:

Monday, 14 November 2011

Profit before planet

Friends of the Earth Campaign

"I want an environmental policy that supports the planet not profits"

Campaign Action Card reads....

"Dear David Cameron

I am extremely concerned to learn that corporate giants are spending millions funding business lobby groups that influence Government policies, sabotage international agreements such as Kyoto and Copenhagen and undermine credible scientific evidence on the impact of CO2 emissions.

I am therefore calling on you and your government to put the interests of people and our planet first- and not allow yourselves to be bullied by big business. I also urge you to take a leading role in galvanising leaders of developed countries to agree a binding commitment t cutting CO2 emissions by at least 40% without offsets."

Taken from 'PRofit before Planet: Who is making deals with your government" leaflet.

Sunday, 13 November 2011


At the recent BIHR event I was speaking to an individual involved in forensic social care about the role of risk in mental health policy.

Do you think that mental health policy is now so concerned with risk that human rights of offenders in particular are being neglected?

I have started putting together some ideas and will post them very soon. Please do join in the discussion here or

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Corporate Views: Human Rights or Climate Change?

Human rights surpassed climate change as the top priority among companies concerned about corporate sustainability and businesses, according to new research released this week by consulting and research firm BSR.

The significance of water conservation and management issues also jumped dramatically from 2010 to 2011, the research reveals. The data, part of the BSR/GlobalScan State of Sustainable Business Poll 2011, shows that there has been a gradual increase in the influence of human rights concerns as a business social responsibility priority since 2009...

During a briefing about the poll results during the BSR Conference 2011 here, BSR President and CEO Aron Cramer said the research shows that despite the stagnant economic recovery, businesses remain focused and committed to their corporate social responsibility programs.


However, the data also shows that these ideals still sit somewhat outside the full attention of senior management and still need to be more tightly integrated into core operations.

“Businesses’ role in society are going to be undermined if they aren’t taking sustainability and corporate responsibility seriously. … Businesses look around and say, ‘National governments aren’t going to solve this, we’ve got to get on with it,” he said.

Extracts from:

Travel and the environment

Article on Sustainable Travel from 'Travel Mole'.

WTM: 'No-one wants holidays that abuse human rights', travel industry told 

Tourism Concern will today urge the global tourism industry to take a human rights approach to doing business.

Launching a new briefing paper at World Travel Market in London, Tourism Concern director Tricia Barnett will tell the travel industry that integrating human rights into company policies and activities is "the right thing to do".

Briefing tour operators at ExCel, Barnet will tell them that sustainability can only be realised if the development and operation of tourism is embedded upon a respect for human rights, including the rights of marginalised communities in destinations that suffer the negative impacts of tourism.

“No-one wants to go on holiday thinking that they are part of a process that could be abusing human rights," said Barnett. "Of course they would never know. Human rights abuses are
hidden. Who would think that the water that’s filling their pool might mean that locals can’t access clean water for themselves? We hold governments responsible
when they fail to uphold the rights of their citizens. And we hold the travel businesses responsible when they don’t pay due care to respect human rights.

"There is an onus on them to ensure that they are not complicit in rights violations. Our new report highlights new thinking in this area and seeks to begin a dialogue on how
to move forward”

Tourism Concern said the adoption of a human rights approach would align the tourism industry with wider international business consensus. It will present its briefingm Why the tourism industry needs to take a human rights approach: The business case, at WTM at 11am in North Gallery Room 8.

By Linsey McNeill,


Attended one of the British Institute of Human Rights 'On Tour' events this week in Mold (missed the Oxford event). Absolutely brilliant day; lively debate and really engaging. Met a huge variety of people who were all keenly interested in learning more about using human rights in their work.

The BIHR tour is a really great way of raising awareness and educating people about the importance of the Human Rights Act. Human rights are important not only in an international context but in a domestic context too! Wrote a comment to this effect on the Mold 'flag' which is to be sent to Downing Street (I believe); perhaps it, along with the many other comments, will be read by someone in government...

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

'Domestic abuse is your business'

More news from the Equality and Human Rights Commission (ECHR):

'Domestic abuse is your business'
 A recent conference (held in North Wales) encouraged employers to recognise the impact of domestic abuse on the workplace and to put into place effective domestic abuse policies.
ECHR ‘Who Do you See? Living together in Wales’ research found that 19% of the Welsh population believe that domestic abuse is best handled as a private matter. However, domestic abuse is not a private matter –domestic abuse is your business.

Why is action needed in the workplace?Domestic abuse currently costs UK businesses over £2.7 billion a year.
In the UK, in any one year, more than 20% of employed women take time off work because of domestic violence, and 2% lose their jobs as a direct result of the abuse.
75% of women that experience domestic abuse are targeted at work – from harassing phone calls and abusive partners arriving at the office unannounced, to physical assaults.

What can employers do?ECHR are encouraging employers to take action so that skilled and experienced staff are able to retain their jobs and feel safe and supported in the workplace.

Lots of infor is available at

UK Companies and Human Rights Abroad

From Amnesty International:

We are lobbying for amendments to the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill.

Our researchers have documented serious human rights infringements by UK companies overseas. This Bill proposed by the UK government would make it almost impossible for victims of these abuses to seek justice in UK courts.

Last year thousands of victims of illegal waste dumping in Ivory Coast successfully claimed compensation from British oil company Trafigura. Under the proposed legislation, such cases would be a thing of the past.

To deny these victims justice is to fuel a cycle of impunity. We want to bring about an amendment to the proposed Bill to ensure that where corporate abuses occur overseas, those affected can access justice in the UK.