Human Rights has become central to the corporate social responsibility agenda. This is partly driven by the debate about whether globalisation is detrimental or beneficial for developing countries. It is also partly driven by concern about whether corporate behaviour is reinforcing or undermining human rights.
A number of campaigns focusing on corporate behaviour, initially in South Africa, and more recently in Burma, China and elsewhere, has placed the spotlight on particular countries where human rights are seen as most at risk (whilst not detracting from the fact that violations of human rights occur in all countries).
While governments have primary responsibility to promote and protect human rights, corporations and other organs of society also have responsibilities. Companies have direct responsibility for their own operations, for example ensuring that their labour rights policies are implemented globally. However, companies are increasingly being assessed on their wider impact on fundamental human rights in their operations in countries where oppressive regimes, weak governance and conflict hold sway.
Investors have traditionally boycotted certain countries, but increasingly it is argued that countries need investment to achieve social and economic rights. Increasingly, it is what the company does in a country that is of interest.