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International Business and Human Rights

Our international business and human rights lawyers have broad multijurisdictional experience and multidisciplinary skills to support clients in this fast-developing area of business and the law. 

As responsible business conduct cements itself as a critical issue, ongoing due diligence of human rights and environmental impacts in business operations, relationships and global supply chains is a key component of managing a complex transnational web of legal, financial and reputational consequences. We can help you to respond effectively to a crisis or complaint, and advise you on how to manage future risks and stakeholder expectations. 

Businesses have a responsibility to respect human rights. They face expectations from employees, consumers, investors, policy and law-makers and governments to ensure that effective management of human rights risks is embedded throughout business activities and supply chains. Failure to do so increasingly results in reputational and financial consequences as well as the risk of legal liability. 

Converging factors such as the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, domestic legislation and international standards have clearly demonstrated a global trend in the conduct expected of business. Organizations need a proactive strategy that balances short-term goals with long-term vision − a stance that can also enhance business stability, productivity and long-term profitability. 

Local insight, global reach: with lawyers in 20 African countries, our teams understand the political, legal, cultural and regulatory issues in the region. Our global Africa team itself comprises more than 200 lawyers in Johannesburg, Casablanca, London, New York, Paris, Dubai, Perth, Hong Kong and Beijing. 

Our International Business and Human Rights team combines extensive human rights and corporate, commercial, employment and litigation experience to advise clients in identifying and managing human rights risks across a range of strategic, governance, transactional, risk management, compliance and dispute resolution issues. We can provide a fully coordinated approach in this key area across multiple jurisdictions, delivering a seamless client experience. 

Key capabilities include: 

  • risk management: systems and processes to identify and prevent or respond to adverse human rights, social and community impacts
  • reporting and disclosure: encouraging transparency, disclosing human rights, social and community risks as well as information on human rights policies and their effectiveness
  • crisis management: dealing with unforeseen social, political and economic challenges due to poor governance, corruption, political instability and lack of social cohesion
  • supply chain management: sustainable supply chains and ethical procurement are integral to protecting brand, managing legal, regulatory and reputational risks, and expanding into new markets
  • project finance: investors and financial institutions increasingly require businesses to identify and manage social and human rights issues as a condition of funding; examples including the IFC Performance Standards, Equator Principles, OECD Common Approaches and OECD Guidelines on Multinational Enterprises are applicable to most of the world’s largest financial institutions 

Please contact us to discuss how we can help you to achieve your objectives.