Human rights and decent working conditions

Human rights and decent working conditions

The Transparency Act requires businesses that are covered by the legislation to carry out due diligence assessments of their suppliers. In the due diligence assessments, the businesses must investigate potential and actual negative consequences on basic human rights and decent working conditions. Furthermore, an explanation of the findings must be prepared and published on the company’s website annually, and no later than 30 June. In order to carry this out, it is important that you know the most important sections of human rights.

Basic human rights

Human rights are defined as basic rights to which we are all entitled, regardless of gender, age, orientation, outlook on life, nationality or place of residence. Human rights give citizens general rights, while it is the state’s duty to ensure that the rights are respected.

Human rights were adopted in 1948, under the name “The Universal Declaration of Human Rights“. This consists of 30 different articles that define what constitutes a human right. It is this declaration that the Transparency Act refers to with human rights. In this article, you can read the most important things to think about in the implementation of the Transparency Act.

In Norway, the government has adopted the Transparency Act, which is a law that will ensure a more open and proven relationship with Norwegian businesses regarding basic human rights and decent working conditions in the supply chain. This includes foreign businesses that sell goods or services in Norway and that meet the criteria in the legislation, read more here.

Basic human rights in the Transparency Act

The Transparency Act refers to the internationally recognized human rights that follow from the UN Convention on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights from 1966, the UN Convention on Civil and Political Rights from 1966 and the ILO’s core conventions on fundamental rights and principles in working life.

Tekstilarbeidere i India åpenhetsloven

Decent working conditions in the Transparency Act

By decent working conditions is meant the requirements according to §3, letter c of the Transparency Act on basic human rights and health, environment and safety (HSE) in the workplace. Salary that gives the right to live on also falls under the term decent working conditions.

What does decent working conditions mean in the Transparency Act?

According to the Transparency Act, businesses must investigate violations of decent working conditions at their suppliers. This means that the businesses must investigate the HSE processes at their suppliers, and investigate potential and actual negative consequences on wages that give the employees enough to live on.

Les vår oversikt over risikoland: Landsrisiko for brudd på menneskerettigheter

In order to investigate health, environment and safety at the supplier, it is important to familiarize yourself with what this actually involves. In the Ethics Information Committee’s report, it appears that decent work deals with the safety and finances of employees and can be compared to the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

The business must therefore investigate that employees at the suppliers receive fair wages and equal pay for equal work. In addition, it is the employer’s duty to ensure healthy working conditions through rest, free time, limitation of working hours and days off.

Anstendige arbeidsvilkår i tekstilbransjen

Civil and political rights

Civil and political rights are one of two obligations in human rights that make the member states obliged to respect citizens’ right to basic rights such as life, personal freedom, legal certainty, freedom of expression and democratic governance. Below you can see all the principles for human rights and decent working conditions:

The right to life

The right to life is one of the human rights principles that describe people’s right not to be unjustly or arbitrarily killed by another human being. The principle is defined in Article 3 of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights, where reference is made to “everyone has the right to life, liberty and personal security”.

The right not to be tortured

The right not to be tortured deals with a person’s right not to be tortured or subjected to other cruel inhuman treatment. Torture is defined as deliberate actions that give a person serious physical or psychological pain in order to obtain information, threaten or punish the person or a third person.

The convention prohibits all forms of torture and similar acts, yet torture occurs around the world. In Amnesty’s report on torture from 2014, it appears that torture was reported in 82% of all the countries investigated. In 2014 and 2015, Amnesty International started the “Stop Torture” campaign, which led to several important and positive changes. The countries highlighted were Mexico, Morocco, Nigeria, the Philippines and Uzbekistan.

The right not to be imprisoned without trial

Imprisonment without law and sentence is a term that describes cases where individuals are held captive by a state apparatus, without formal charges being administered. Statistics from the United Nations Association say that countries such as India (77.10), Congo (75), Saint Lucia (73.33) and Nigeria (72.40) are the countries with the highest incidence of imprisonment without law or sentence.

Freedom of speech

Human rights give people the right to express their opinions without being punished for it. However, hateful or discriminatory opinions against other people must not be expressed. Since the 17th century, freedom of expression has stood strong, and has been protected in both national and international laws. Freedom of expression is protected in Article 19 of the UN Universal Declaration.

Despite the fact that all the world’s countries have recognized freedom of expression, the convention is violated every day. People are punished, persecuted and killed for speaking their mind. Countries such as the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden are countries with the least risk of infringement, while countries such as Libya, South Sudan, Turkey, Ukraine and Zambia are historically most exposed to violations of freedom of expression1.

Read more about freedom of expression on Amnesty International’s pages.

Freedom of religion

Freedom of religion stands strong in civil and political rights in that people have the right to personal freedom of belief and practice the religion and belief they want. In Norway, the right is enshrined in several key pieces of legislation, including section 16 of the Norwegian Constitution, the Human Rights Act and section 185 of the Criminal Code.

Freedom of organization

Freedom of association means the right to form and/or be a member of a trade union or organisation. The right also includes the right not to be a member of a trade union.

Voting rights

The UN decided in 1948 that the right to vote was a human right. This is defined as the right to cast a vote in elections to a national assembly. Democracy is therefore central to handling human rights.

In Norway, we have had an independent democracy since 1814, yet we are not going back further than 1913 before women got equal rights as men. New Zealand was first (1893), before countries such as Australia (1902) and the United States (1920) followed. At this time, Norway was one of the countries that was the earliest to introduce women’s right to vote. Countries such as Vatican City and Brunei still do not have female suffrage. We also see that countries that rank low on the UN democracy index are countries with poor or no voting rights. Countries that rank poorly on the index are Afghanistan, Myanmar, North Korea and Syria.

Economic, social and cultural rights

The Convention on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights must ensure that citizens have access to food, water, housing, education and basic health services2. The convention was adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1966 and entered into force in 1976.

The right to work

Article 23 of the UN Universal Declaration states that every person has the right to work and a free choice of occupation. Article 23 of the UN Universal Declaration states that every person has the right to work and a free choice of occupation. This includes zero tolerance for discrimination and equal pay for equal work. Freedom of organization also stands strongly in the “right to work”.

A major challenge on this topic is economic downturns. Global unemployment was at 6.2% in 2021, with the biggest cause being linked to Covid-19. Reports from the UN show that countries such as South Africa (29.8%), Congo (21.8%) and Gabon (21.5%) have the highest unemployment rates.

The right to education

Article 26 of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that everyone has the right to education. The declaration states that it is a human right to have free and compulsory primary education.

Around 244 million children and young people today do not have the opportunity to start or complete their schooling.

United Nations

The right to a satisfactory standard of living

According to Article 11 of the Human Rights Act, every person has the right to a satisfactory standard of living for himself and his family. This includes satisfactory food, clothing and housing. It is also written that the countries of the world must cooperate on export/import and knowledge on the best possible extraction of food.

The UN estimates that up to 828 million people are affected by hunger. At the same time, there are 2.3 billion people who experience a lack of food security for periods3.

Human rights in the world

The duties in the Transparency Act act as a requirement from the state, to practice and highlight the importance of basic human rights and decent working conditions. In the guidelines for human rights, it is the states that are responsible for ensuring that human rights are followed, which is the background for the Transparency Act.

The Transparency Act entered into force in Norway in 2022 and is one of the first statutory human rights requirements of its kind. In a global context, four countries have implemented various laws regarding corporate social responsibility and human rights. This applies to France, Great Britain, Australia and the United States.

Laws and regulations relating to human rights

Every year, Norwegian businesses buy large quantities of products that are produced in low-cost countries. In many of these countries, however, there is a high risk that the goods have been produced under poor conditions and violations of human rights. There are nevertheless a number of laws and regulations that can be important for Norwegian businesses in addition to the Norwegian Transparency Act, this applies to:

Grunnleggende menneskerettigheter og anstendige arbeidsvilkår

How to deal with the requirements of the Transparency Act?

The Transparency Act requires companies to carry out due diligence assessments of their suppliers and to take measures if necessary. There is also a requirement that the business must report on the due diligence assessments, no later than 30 June each year. In addition, anyone who wishes can request information.

Software for handling human rights

Share Control was early on in delivering a solution for handling the Transparency Act in the Microsoft Power Platform. This enables integrations with, among other things, Microsoft 365 and Power BI, so that you can more easily import and export important data.

ShareControl Transparency helps businesses collect important supplier information in one platform. Carry out due diligence assessments, send out surveys, assign a risk score to your suppliers and generate reports easily in PDF form. In this way, you ensure compliance with the regulations, while making the processes considerably more efficient.

Find out more about ShareControl Transparency here >>

Country risk for human rights violations:

Share Control has developed an unofficial table of risk countries with a number of criteria. We recommend our customers to follow their own criteria for their risk analyses, but at the same time use available information such as the table below. Data bases for basic human rights and decent working conditions can be obtained from the UN’s pages, on which this table is based, you can read the full report here.

Risikoland etter åpenhetsloven

Countries at risk of human rights violations

This measurement deals with various parameters based on available information from the UN’s websites. The parameters consider the democracy index, gender equality (GII), human development (HDI), corruption, political rights and civil rights. The statistics give a score from 0 to 100, where the highest possible score is 600 (highest is positive).

CountryScoreRisk

Afghanistan
217Very High

Albania
416Medium
Algeria305Very High
Argentina442Medium
Australia550Very Low
Bangladesh328Very High
Belarus320Very High
Belgium538Low
Bolivia363High
Bosnia388High
Brazil412Medium
Bulgaria447Medium
Canada550Very Low
Chile517Low
Colombia399High
Denmark577Very Low
Egypt288Very High
Estonia533Low
Philippines389High
Finland571Very Low
France525Low
Ghana397High
Greece499Medium
India394High
Indonesia398High
Iraq277Very High
Iran276Very High
Ireland556Very Low
Iceland561Very Low
Israel496Medium
Italy517Low
Japan541Low
Kazakhstan332Very High
Kenya330Very High
China312Very High
Congo (Democratic)250Very High
Congo (Republic)213Very High
Croatia482Medium
Latvia494Medium
Lithuania502Low
Malaysia407Medium
Malta493Medium
Mexico379High
Mongolia430Medium
Morocco343Very High
Myanmar249Very High
Netherlands562Very Low
New Zealand568Very Low
Norway576Very Low
Pakistan289Very High
Papua New Guinea323Very High
Peru393High
Poland482Medium
Portugal521Low
Romania445Medium
Russia303Very High
Saudi Arabia316Very High
Senegal358High
Serbia406Medium
Singapore475Medium
Slovenia519Low
Spain526Low
Sri Lanka381High
Great Britain539Low
Sudan211Very High
Switzerland567Very Low
Sweden571Very Low
Syria217Very High
South Africa425Medium
Thailand370High
Czech Republic513Low
Turkiet351High
Germany554Very Low
Ukraine394High
Hungary431Medium
Uruguay520Low
USA502Low
Vietnam299Very High
Austria540Low
*Errors may occur. We recommend using the model as a starting point and not as a procedure. Share Control AS does not take responsibility for errors caused by the table.
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