Managing the link between corruption and human rights
The link between human rights and corruption is well-known. It is also high on the agenda for many international organisations, including the United Nations and the OECD.
Most countries have distinct legislation around both corruption and human rights. In France, companies of a certain size are required to implement specific compliance programmes to meet the obligations of the country’s human rights and anti-corruption laws. As such, there can be a tendency for the two programmes to be run in independent silos within organisations.
In the latest issue of the french magazine Compliances, Chloé Blais, Caroline Le Mestre and Lucie Bonpain from GoodCorporation’s Paris office argue for a more coordinated approach to preventing corruption and respecting human rights.
Roles and responsibilities
To implement effective compliance programmes in these two spheres, there needs to be a clear assignment of roles and responsibilities. Those responsible then need to take a co-ordinated approach, possibly through cross-disciplinary committees. Such committees can then implement action plans that take account of both the human rights and corruption risks that apply to their area of the business.
Code of conduct training programmes and speak-up systems can also be revised to raise awareness of the corruption and human rights issues that the business may face and how to respond to them. Making all stakeholders aware of the risks and how to report them can help organisations mitigate any issues before they become scandals. In addition, companies should also consider making the link between human rights and corruption explicit. This can be achieved by integrating both in training programmes for both internal and external stakeholders.
Both Sapin II and the Duty of Vigilence require companies to carry out a risk map of their respective risks relating to these issues. While the corruption risk map tends to focus on the risks to the organisation, a human rights risk map considers the risk to people. This approach, however, ignores the fact that corruption has an impact on people as well as organisations. There is therefore a strong argument for ensuring that any corruption risk assessment considers the potential impact on people of any corrupt practices to which the organisation might be exposed.
Third party due diligence to examine human rights as well as corruption risks should also be carried out. This should incorporate the requirements of Sapin II, which applies not only to suppliers but also clients and business partners, AND the human rights approach of consultation with both internal and external stakeholders.
While this combined approach may go beyond regulatory obligations, it provides businesses with a far deeper understanding of their value chain. This will enable greater mitigation of both corruption and human rights risks, ensures that the spirit of the law is met and provides evidence of good governance and responsibility for these high-risk areas.