New York, online
In Mid-June, the UN Global Compact Leaders Summit took place for the 20th time. Due to the ongoing outbreak of Covid-19, the meeting was carried out online for the first time in its long history. The virtual format allowed an unlimited number of stakeholders from all over the world to participate in the event. Across all time zones, leading experts from the private and public sectors, civil society and academia were discussing how to rebuild more inclusive economies and societies after the crisis. The aim was to set a new course for a socially fair and climate-resistant world in which no one is left behind. Among the high-ranking guests were Michelle Bachelet, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations, and Angela Merkel, Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany.
Part of the event was a breakout session entitled "Post COVID-19: Human Rights and Anticorruption", initiated by the Colombian Global Compact Network. Susanne Friedrich, Director of the Alliance for Integrity, shared the panel with representatives from Telefónica - Movistar and Grupo Vanti, two supporting companies of the Alliance for Integrity, and the Peruvian Association of Private Economic Institutions (CONFIEP).
The close link between anti-corruption and human rights was addressed from various perspectives. Corruption is considered a systematic barrier to the protection of human rights as guaranteed by global and regional conventions as well as national constitutions and laws.
In general, corruption has a negative impact on the observance of human rights in three respects: a) it systematically reduces state resources intended to cover basic needs, b) it alters respect for human rights under the rule of law in a variety of ways and, for example, prevents people from being included or from having access to complaints mechanisms, and c) it leads to individual episodes that actively violate even the most central human rights, such as the breach of the Brumadinho dam in Brazil last year.
Recently, more and more companies have become aware of the importance of the two concepts and their interrelation. The many years of experience of the Alliance for Integrity in the implementation of compliance management systems can be very valuable in the observance of human rights due diligence. Especially in small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), where financial and human resources are limited, but also in large companies, synergy effects can be used for a robust, uniform approach to the prevention of human rights violations, environmental damage and corruption.
Author: Elena Rittger