Respect for human rights

Respect for human rights

Respect internationally-recognized human rights, including the rights of indigenous peoples, local communities, workers, and others who may be affected by company activities.


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Company responsibility to respect internationally-recognised human rights is well established in instruments such as the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. Core internationally-recognized human rights are described in the International Bill of Human Rights (consisting of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights), and the International Labour Organization (ILO) eight fundamental Conventions and Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work. Depending on the circumstances, companies may need to consider additional standards or instruments.

To compare your company’s commitments with the Accountability Framework, see the Commitment Self-Assessment Tool.

2.1 Respect for all human rights

Companies commit to respecting internationally-recognised human rights. This includes the rights of indigenous peoples, local communities, workers, and others who may be affected by company activities. Companies commit to:

  1. Actively engage stakeholders and respect their rights to meaningful and effective participation in decision-making about matters that may affect them.
  2. Avoid causing or contributing to adverse impacts to human rights.
  3. Prevent or mitigate adverse human rights impacts that are linked to their operations.
  4. Avoid undermining governments’ abilities to meet their own human rights obligations.
  5. Provide grievance mechanism(s) that are designed and adequately resourced to address harms to human rights.
  6. Provide for or cooperate in providing remediation where they have caused or contributed to adverse impacts.
  7. Protect the security of environmental and human rights defenders, whistle-blowers, complainants, and community spokespersons, and protect their confidentiality and (when requested and lawful) their anonymity.
  8. Respect that human rights apply equally to all persons – regardless of gender and without discrimination – and ensure that company measures to respect human rights consider and address the specific challenges faced by women, vulnerable persons, and marginalized groups including in its conduct of due diligence processes.

Without diminishing company responsibility to respect other rights, the Accountability Framework focuses on the rights of indigenous peoples and local communities, as well as workers’ rights, because of the particular risk of negative impacts to these rights in agricultural and forestry supply chains.

2.2 Respect for the rights of indigenous peoples and local communities

Companies commit to respecting the rights of indigenous peoples and local communities in all production, sourcing, and financial investments. This includes, among others, rights to property, culture, self-determination, self-governance, a healthy environment, non-discrimination, and full and effective participation in the decisions that affect them. Companies commit to:

  1. Carry out operations consistent with the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
  2. Identify and respect indigenous peoples’ and local communities’ formal and customary rights to lands, territories, and resources in the context of any company activity. This includes rights to own, occupy, use, and administer these lands, territories, and resources.
  3. Ensure that, prior to any activity that may affect indigenous peoples’ and local communities’ rights, land, resources, territories, livelihoods, and food security, their free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) is secured. This is done in a culturally-appropriate manner, in accordance with the traditions, norms, and values of these peoples and communities, and through the representatives and institutions they choose.
  4. Ensure that where production or conservation uses impinge on their rights, lands, resources, territories, livelihoods, or food security, indigenous peoples and local communities are compensated or accommodated through appropriate measures reflecting the negotiated outcomes of an FPIC process. These measures may include continued access to these lands, territories and resources; just and fair compensation; and/or an equitable share in the benefits from such uses.
  5. Take measures to provide remediation through mutually agreed procedures in cases where the company has caused or contributed to appropriation of or harm to the lands, territories, or resources of indigenous peoples or local communities without securing FPIC.
2.3 Respect for workers’ rights

Companies commit to respecting the internationally-recognized rights of workers in all production, sourcing, and financial investments, and to conduct business consistent with the Universal Declaration on Human Rights and ILO fundamental Conventions, and all applicable law, specifically including provisions for:

  • No child labour
  • No forced or compulsory labour
  • Freedom of association and collective bargaining
  • No discrimination
  • No abusive practices or undue disciplinary procedures
  • Legal and decent working hours
  • Safe and healthy workplaces
  • Living wages and fair benefits

To respect the rights of workers, companies also commit to the following:

  1. Ensure these rights are respected for all workers including employees, contractors, temporary, seasonal, part-time, and other workers throughout all levels of the supply chain.
  2. Conduct due diligence to assess their operations and supply-base for risks and challenges to workers’ rights, including those associated with migrant labour, vulnerable workers, child labour, and dangerous work tasks.
  3. Engage regularly and directly with all levels of workers, as well as labour organisations, unions, and other worker advocates. This includes creating permanent mechanisms for management and labour to collaboratively address labour issues on an ongoing basis.

Apply the Principle

Operational Guidance
Free, Prior and Informed Consent
Operational Guidance
Remediation and Access to Remedy
Operational Guidance
Respecting the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities
Self-Assessment Tool for the Accountability Framework

Still have questions?

If you have specific questions about how the Framework can be applied in your context, or would just like to speak directly with a member of the AFi, please contact us below.

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