Government’s Role

Evaluation of Business and Human Rights workshops within the Sino-Swiss Human Rights Dialogue

10 February 2010

Moving Ahead

The Swiss government invited the Institute for Human Rights and Business to undertake a reporting and evaluation exercise for two workshops within the Sino‐ Swiss Human Rights Dialogue: 'A rights‐based approach to CSR reporting', and 'Labour Rights and CSR' took place in Beijing and Changsha respectively in November 2009.

The Chinese and Swiss governments launched a human rights dialogue in 1991, since which time ten rounds have taken place, most recently in 2008. Four key areas are addressed within the Sino‐Swiss human rights dialogue:

  1. Law enforcement and criminal justice
  2. Minority rights and freedom of religion
  3. International human rights instruments
  4. Business and human rights

The Chinese government is engaged in on‐going human rights dialogues with other governments, notably the European Union, the United States and Norway. However, only the Sino‐Swiss dialogue addresses the question of business and human rights at a government‐togovernment level, and, as such, it occupies a very significant place in the overall developing human rights discourse and the growing field of corporate social responsibility (CSR) within China.

This is particularly the case at a time when more and more Chinese corporations are investing overseas and becoming global players on the one hand. And on the other, the global economic downturn means increased drive for greater competitiveness, and lower prices through the global supply chain, sometimes at the cost of upholding international human rights standards.

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