Investors Call on Firms to Support Human Rights in Ukraine

Companies should take “immediate steps” to align their operations with international frameworks to protect human rights in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, according to asset owners and managers responsible for more than US$1.7 trillion in assets. Firms with business activities or business relationships in Ukraine, Russia, and Belarus or other conflict-affected and high-risk areas should follow the UN Guiding Principles on Human Rights and Business and the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, said a statement issued on behalf of 56 organisations. “Russia’s human rights abuses and violations of international law have manifested in salient and material risks that should compel investors to take measures to help protect both the rights of the Ukrainian people and the integrity of our investment portfolios,” said the statement, supported by investors and their representatives, including AP Pension, Robeco, Schroders, Storebrand Asset Management and Wespath Benefits and Investments. Among the recommended actions, firms were encouraged to report “regularly and publicly” on their human rights policy, including due diligence efforts and procedures in place to cease, prevent, and mitigate negative human rights impact. “It is a moral, legal, and financial imperative for the private sector to take action and demonstrate leadership by supporting the human rights of the Ukrainian people, their democracy, and their struggle for peace and security,” the statement said.

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