There are a number of global instruments and frameworks on responsible business that address human rights and labour-related issues. These are described below.
1. ILO Tripartite Declaration of Principles concerning Multinational Enterprises and Social Policy (MNE Declaration)
The ILO recognizes the important role played by multinational enterprises in the economies of most countries and in international economic relations. It also recognizes their enormous potential to contribute to the goal of decent work for all in today’s globalized world. To guide and encourage their positive contribution to socio-economic development and minimize negative impacts of their operations, the ILO promotes the Tripartite Declaration of Principles concerning Multinational Enterprises and Social Policy (MNE Declaration). It is one of the ILO’s key instruments for promoting socially responsible labour practices in the corporate world.
This global declaration, adopted in 1977 and revised in 2006, contains a comprehensive set of guidelines on employment and labour-related issues based on international labour standards (covering general policies, employment promotion and security, equality of opportunity and treatment, training, wages and benefits, minimum wages, occupational safety and health and industrial relations). Adopted by governments, employers’ and workers’ organizations, it provides specific recommendations on how companies can maximize their positive economic and social impacts and minimize any negative impact.
With regard to gender equality, the revised MNE Declaration incorporates the 1998 ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work (that includes the non-discrimination Conventions 100 and 111) in the general principles section, and extends equality of opportunity and treatment in employment in the employment section. It states that “All governments should pursue policies designed to promote equality of opportunity and treatment in employment, with a view to eliminating any discrimination based on race, colour, sex, religion, political opinion, national extraction or social origin.”
Further information on the MNE Declaration see: http://www.ilo.org/wcmsp5/groups/public/---ed_emp/---emp_ent/---multi/documents/publication/wcms_094386.pdf