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Human rights and business

Recommendation 1936 (2010)

Parliamentary Assembly
Assembly debate on 6 October 2010 (32nd Sitting) (see Doc. 12361, report of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights, rapporteur: Mr Haibach; and Doc. 12384, opinion of the Committee on Economic Affairs and Development, rapporteur: Mr Elzinga). Text adopted by the Assembly on 6 October 2010 (32nd Sitting).
1. The Council of Europe’s activities in the area of human rights protection cover a wide range of issues of direct relevance to business activities, such as property rights, social rights, bioethics, the information society, and anti-corruption, anti-money laundering and environmental protection measures. Therefore, the Parliamentary Assembly considers that the Council of Europe is well placed to promote corporate responsibility in the area of human rights.
2. Referring to its Resolution 1757 (2010), the Assembly recommends that the Committee of Ministers explore ways and means of enhancing the role of businesses in respecting and promoting human rights. The Committee of Ministers should in particular consider:
2.1 preparing a study on corporate responsibilities in the area of human rights, taking into account in particular the case law of the European Court of Human Rights and the decisions of the European Committee of Social Rights;
2.2 examining the feasibility of elaborating a complementary legal instrument, such as a convention or an additional protocol to the European Convention on Human Rights (ETS No. 5);
2.3 preparing a recommendation on corporate responsibility in the area of human rights, possibly supplemented by flexible guidelines for national authorities, businesses and other actors;
2.4 strengthening the supervisory mechanism of the revised European Social Charter (ETS No. 163);
2.5 accelerating the modernisation of the Convention for the Protection of Individuals with regard to Automatic Processing of Personal Data (ETS No. 108);
2.6 putting into place a reporting system on the social responsibilities of businesses, either by establishing a Council of Europe labelling mechanism or by delegating this task to an outside body using Council of Europe human rights standards. Such a label would allow consumers to make informed choices;
2.7 developing co-operation between the Council of Europe and other international organisations, in particular the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, its National Contact Points and the International Labour Organization, with a view to promoting consolidation of coherent standards on corporate responsibilities in the area of human rights.
3. The Assembly also recommends that the Committee of Ministers examine ways and means of developing partnerships with the business community in order to promote the Council of Europe’s values and standards.