Human Rights: Food for an interfering thought
Human Rights Reader 404
BUSINESSES DO NOT PLAY A ‘CRITICAL ROLE’, AND CALLING ON THEM TO ENGAGE AS EQUAL PARTNERS IN A HUMAN RIGHTS-BASED DEVELOPMENT PROCESS, IS NOT CALLED FOR.
Innovation is not a prerogative of the private sector.
1. More and more, we are seeing a process of outsourcing the international development agenda. The current trade and investment regimes are already favoring wealthy countries and corporations. And where has this led us? To the balance already being outrageously skewed in favor of private interests. (Look at WHO’s financing, for instance).
2. In this Reader, I have more questions than I have answers:
• What track record do businesses really have for being part of the solution?
• What is the incentive for Trans-National Corporations (TNCs) to exert their enormous power and influence in any way beyond maintaining the status-quo that has delivered so many benefits to them? So, Who benefits from the current state of affairs?:
o The gargantuan pharmaceutical and food and beverages industry, intent on protecting their profits?
o Governments that now are increasingly elected on the back of private election finance?
• Does all this imply that the incentive structure only operates in one direction –not the human rights direction?
• Is the assumption such that we should have less confidence in the aptitudes of the public sector, so that it must do more to operate on business terms? …even when those are the same terms that have led to the current highly inequitable, unsustainable, human rights-violating patterns of development?
3. Since public and private incentives are currently so poorly aligned (a marriage in hell?), it is hard to imagine how public entities operating more and more along private lines will keep up with their primary public responsibilities, including as the main duty bearers for protecting sustainability, inclusiveness and human rights (HR). The question really is:
o At what point should projects vital to human and environmental wellbeing happen regardless of a business take on the issue?