The Adverse Human Rights Risks and Impacts of European Companies: Getting a glimpse of the picture

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This report presents the findings of a study undertaken by IPIS and commissioned by the European Coalition for Corporate Justice on the extent to which European companies are identified in concerns about adverse human rights risks and impacts. Gathering concerns raised regarding the human rights risks and impacts of companies listed on the UK’s FTSE 100, France’s CAC 40 and the German DAX 30, the study finds that around half of these companies have been identified in allegations or concerns regarding adverse human rights risks and impacts reported on between 2005 and early 2013. Many of these risks and impacts relate to operations outside the European Union, with the most severe often alleged to occur in countries in which rule of law and institutions are weak.

The risks and impacts identified in claims canvassed by the study indicate that the range of rights and impacts potentially affected by European companies is comparable to those identified by the then UN Special Representative on Business and Human Rights in his 2008 study. The study also highlights that human rights concerns raised often present sector specific trends. Thus for example, whilst the European extractives sector has raised particular issues surrounding security and human rights as well as the impact of environmental harm on rights enjoyment abroad, companies retailing or producing goods for consumption are often associated with adverse human rights risks or impacts, particularly around labour rights and sourcing, through business structures or relationships in their supply chains.

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