What was the most significant day in the last 100 years? Some might say the fall of the Berlin Wall, others the attack on the Twin Towers, while science fans might pick the Moon landing or the Sputnik launch, which marked the beginning of the Space Age.
There have been many milestone events for the history of humanity over the last century. These include December 10 1948. On that day, which came three years after the end of the Second World War, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the first and most important instrument in protecting human rights around the world. It went on to underpin many of the 20th century’s political, economic and social battles and victories. Human Rights Day is celebrated on December 10 every year in honor of that memorable day.
The most translated document
The Declaration spans 30 short articles plus a preamble, totaling around 10 pages, and represents the most meaningful progress made by humanity as it proclaims “the recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family.” Article 1 opens with a sentence that alone encapsulates centuries of achievements, sweeping away prejudices and discrimination: “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.”
Guinness World Records has certified the Declaration as the most translated document in the world: the list starts with the A’ingae language, which is spoken in Ecuador and Colombia, and Abkhaz in Georgia, and goes all the way to Zulu in South Africa.
For the curious-minded, it has also been translated into artificial languages such as Esperanto, Ido and Interlingua, and there are different versions in the various sign languages. The Declaration has even been translated in Manx, the language of the Isle of Man, which was considered extinct until a short time ago. The most recent translation was published on October 10 2022: this was into Kru’ng, a language spoken by 59,000 people in Cambodia and Laos.
Underpinning the founding values of sustainable progress
As time went on, the Declaration was flanked by two further documents with which it now makes up the International Bill of Human Rights, the core of all subsequent international human rights laws. These were namely the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights: they were adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1966 in order to provide a more granular level of detail than the Universal Declaration.
Companies with sustainable progress ambitions are facing a huge challenge in integrating respect for human rights into the way they do business.
The public document that sets forth our commitment in this respect is our Human Rights Policy, which we adopted in 2013 and updated in 2021. This is a list of principles that strengthens and expands upon the commitments made in our Code of Ethics, the Corruption Zero Tolerance Plan and the Corporate Criminal Liability Risk Prevention Models.
Aside from the aforementioned International Bill of Human Rights, the main international standards that inspire our commitment in this regard are the United Nations’ Protect, Respect and Remedy Framework outlined in the guiding principles on businesses and human rights, the OCSE’s guidelines for multinationals, the fundamental conventions of the International Labor Organization (ILO), and the 10 Global Compact principles.
Our Policy: work practices
The Policy’s principles are grouped into two sections. The first is dedicated to respecting human rights in our work practices, to promoting diversity, inclusion, and equal treatment and opportunities. This is in addition to guaranteeing that people will be treated with dignity and valued for their uniqueness, whether this is within the company or along the value chain.
We also focus on the issues of people’s health and psychological, relational and physical safety and well-being, which must be protected at every stage of life, at work but also at home and in leisure time.
Lastly, we promote dialogue between the company, employees and their representatives. We also encourage broad-ranging participation in and sharing of company strategies, as well as considering collective negotiation as a privileged tool in establishing the best contract conditions.
Communities and society
The second section is dedicated to the principles and values that inspire the methods we use for interfacing with people, companies and society as a whole in the zones where the Group operates, which range from highly industrialized regions to rural areas.
We also realize that individual conditions, economic and social development and overall collective well-being are all closely connected. Establishing responsible relations with the communities we operate in is therefore one of the pillars of our strategy, and we also take local diversity into consideration.
We are similarly aware that company communication is increasingly essential: we are committed, on the one hand, to drawing up the most transparent possible contracts with our customers and, on the other, to communicating our activities effectively to all stakeholders.
At the same time, we protect the privacy of individuals in terms of each nation’s legislation, something that is becoming more important in our increasingly connected and interconnected society.
Another aspect of our commitment to human rights is zero tolerance for corruption in all its forms.
Lastly, the environment: climate change is a global challenge, also in the field of human rights. We recognize that protecting the environment and its natural resources is a strategic part of planning, implementing and developing our activities. This is in line with our environmental policy and also embraces respect for biodiversity. Our commitment on that score is multifaceted: the transition to a zero-emission electricity generation system, the electrification transition in key sectors like transport and heating, reducing consumption of resources through a circular approach, and promoting sustainable behavior by everyone.
Once the principles have been defined, the next job is to integrate them into our company processes and then, from a continuous improvement perspective, to engage in monitoring. This is in order to establish the effectiveness of the measures taken in pinpointing any critical issues and acting to prevent or minimize them. These principles extend to all our business relationships, be they with suppliers or commercial and financial partners.
Furthermore, there is also a system in place that gives all our stakeholders the opportunity to report any violations of the Policy’s principles. This is a mechanism defined under the leading international standards and flanks the aforementioned monitoring, to enable companies to take the necessary corrective action.
This ensures that efficient and constant monitoring is in place to ensure that protecting human rights is increasingly part of our day-to-day work.