GENEVA January 22, 2019 – As global leaders meet in Davos for the World Economic Forum (WEF), United Nations experts stressed the critical importance of human rights to the Forum’s central theme of “Globalization 4.0: Shaping a New Architecture in the Age of the Fourth Industrial Revolution”.
“Business and political leaders at Davos must ensure that the Fourth Industrial Revolution works for the most disadvantaged or marginalised individuals and communities, rather than merely for the rich and powerful. That will be possible only if efforts to reshape globalization are built on the bedrock of human rights for all,” said Surya Deva, Chair of the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights.
“We are concerned that the responsibility of all business enterprises to respect human rights throughout their operations appears to be absent from discussions at Davos on how to reshape globalization. Unless this element is fully integrated, ‘Globalization 4.0’ will repeat the failings of the previous versions of globalization,” Deva added.
The experts called on Governments and business leaders to work together to harness the potential of new technologies to achieve sustainable and inclusive development, recalling that:
(1) Business respect for human rights is critical to make globalization work for all and a global authoritative framework already exists in the UN’s Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.*
(2) A growing number of businesses are showing how to respect human rights in practice by conducting human rights due diligence and by establishing remediation mechanisms, while Governments and investors are starting to play a more active role in incentivising responsible business conduct.**
(3) Responsible business conduct that avoid human rights harms in itself makes an important contribution to sustainable development.