From CSR to Human Rights: The Changing Landscape of Business in Pakistan

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Pakistan is a rapidly developing country where businesses have a significant role to play in advancing social and economic progress. While corporate social responsibility (CSR) has long been a buzzword in the country, there is a growing awareness of the importance of human rights in business practices.

The United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs) provide a framework for companies to respect and promote human rights in their operations. In Pakistan, the State Bank of Pakistan has introduced regulations requiring banks and financial institutions to adopt a human rights policy and conduct human rights due diligence.

Moreover, some of Pakistan’s leading companies have recognised the importance of human rights and incorporated it into their business practices. For example, Engro Corporation has developed a comprehensive human rights policy that covers its entire value chain, including employees, contractors, and suppliers. The policy is regularly reviewed and updated to ensure its effectiveness.

Similarly, Nestle Pakistan has developed a Human Rights Due Diligence process that assesses the human rights risks in its operations and supply chain. The company has also developed a grievance mechanism that enables stakeholders to report any human rights abuses.

The change towards a more human rights-focused business landscape is also driven by civil society organisations that advocate for corporate accountability. For example, the Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (PILER) has been instrumental in promoting workers’ rights and highlighting the importance of human rights in business practices.

The shift from CSR to a human rights approach is an important development in Pakistan’s business landscape. It provides an opportunity for companies to take a proactive approach to prevent human rights abuses and contribute to the country’s economic and social development.

In conclusion, businesses in Pakistan are increasingly recognising the importance of respecting and promoting human rights in their operations. This is a positive trend that is driven by the UNGPs, regulations, and civil society organisations. As the business landscape continues to evolve, it is crucial for companies to adopt a human rights approach and contribute to the country’s economic and social progress.

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