Human rights deteriorating in fastest growing economies of Pakistan, China, Russia, Colombia, Bangladesh, Nigeria and India
The human rights situation is worsening worldwide and especially in the important emerging economies of Pakistan, China, Russia, Colombia, Bangladesh, Nigeria, India, Philippines and Mexico. These are the findings of the Human Rights Risk Atlas 2011 that calculates and maps the risk of complicity in human rights abuses for companies operating worldwide.
According to Maplecroft, who publish the Atlas for the fifth successive year, there are now 92 countries in the ‘extreme’ and ‘high risk’ categories as opposed to 83 last year, a rise of nearly 10%. It is the emerging economies which cause most concern, as many multinational companies and investors now have considerable interests centred there and strong economic growth is not being translated into improving human rights, posing a range of legal, reputational, operational and strategic challenges for business.
The Human Rights Risk Atlas 2011, released for International Human Rights Day on 10 December, evaluates 196 countries on their performance across 30 human rights categories, which cover human security, labour standards and protection, civil and political rights and access to remedy.
Most significantly for business, given it plays a major role in supply chains, China has fallen two places in the ranking from last year to 10th. China joins DR Congo (1), Somalia (2), Pakistan (3), Sudan (4), Myanmar (5), Chad (6), Afghanistan (7), Zimbabwe (8), and North Korea (9) as the countries with the worst human rights records.
China’s poor ranking in the overall Human Rights Risk Index (HRRI) reflects the dire situation found across several core human rights areas, where the country is ranked worst or joint bottom of the league. These include violation categories such as freedom of speech, the press and religion; minority rights; judicial independence; and arbitrary arrest and detention. The country also ranked bottom for trafficking and forced labour violations and scored 0.02 out of a possible 10 for child labour.
Human Rights Risk Atlas 2011
© Maplecroft, 2010
Labour rights violations, especially in the manufacturing and agricultural sectors, are commonplace in China due to weak and inconsistent enforcement of labour laws, although with the introduction of new Labour Contract Law in 2008, the situation is slowly set to change as Chinese work forces demand improved pay and conditions.
The Chinese government reportedly monitors and harasses labour rights organisations and political opponents, lawyers are disbarred for taking on politically sensitive cases and victims of human rights abuses are obstructed in seeking redress. China’s performance is compounded by the actions of state security forces acting with impunity, which are reported to take part in extrajudicial killings, torture and arbitrary arrests.
“The worsening of the human rights landscape in fast growing emerging markets is a worry for business,” said Maplecroft CEO, Professor Alyson Warhurst, also a member of the UN Global Compact’s Human Rights Working Group. “The UN’s Special Representative has proposed that companies are responsible for respecting human rights that are impacted by their business activities. They will increasingly be required to exercise due diligence including undertaking human rights impact assessment and human rights monitoring. The Human Rights Risk Atlas supports such monitoring.”
India, which is important to the ICT, manufacturing and agriculture sectors, performs particularly badly in the area of labour rights protections. It is ranked joint first for child labour, forced labour and discrimination and 7th for trafficking, which includes the use of girls in bonded labour and sexual exploitation. Estimates of the number of child labourers varied widely. The government's 2004 national survey estimated the number of working children from aged 5-14 at 16.4 million. NGOs, however, claimed the number of child labourers was closer to 55 million.
Of the G7 nations, which are amongst the largest consumers of goods from the emerging economies, Italy (129), USA (131) and Japan (145) are rated medium risk, whilst France (152), United Kingdom (154), Canada (172) and Germany (181) rated low risk.
Japan scores high risk in minority rights, trafficking and arbitrary arrest and detention. For example, trafficking is a significant problem and during the 2009 period the Japanese government demonstrated diminished anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts.
The Human Rights Risk Atlas 2011 includes interactive maps and indices for 30 human rights categories and scorecards for 196 countries. It also features sub-national mapping of human rights violations and human security incidents down to site-specific levels worldwide. It is supported by sector specific country human rights risk reports.
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