Ljubljana, 31 May (STA) - Ten companies, most of them state-owned, signed a pledge to respect human rights in their business operations at a business forum at the Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GZS) on Friday. The initiative has been launched by the government as a mechanism to protect human rights in industry.
Foreign Minister Miro Cerar said it was key that the state was capable of setting up mechanisms to protect human rights.
In autumn, the government adopted a national action plan that lists a set of measures and recommendations for the implementation of the UN guidelines for the protection of human rights in business.
In the first two years, the government intends to focus on human rights in fields funded by the national budget, through public procurement and incentives, and in companies that received capital investments from the state, said the minister.
Saying that the state must be a role model to the private sector in human rights, he expressed satisfaction that companies in full or partical state-ownership were among the first to sign the pledge.
The document was signed by port operator Luka Koper, gas supplier Plinovodi, postal company Pošta Slovenije, railways operator Slovenske Železnice, state asset custodian Sovereign Holding, insurers Vzajemna and Zavarovalnica Triglav, drug maker Krka, as well as the privately owned mall operator BTC and pharma company Lek.
The companies pledged to make the respect for human rights a key business principle, appoint a human rights officer, identify key risk factors and set up an internal mechanism to address complaints.
The event was also addressed by Aleš Cantarutti, an Economy Ministry state secretary, and Sonja Šmuc, the executive director of GZS, as well as Human Rights Ombudsman Peter Svetina.
The latter said that the state was obligated to protect individuals in the face of human rights violations caused by companies but often failed to do so.
Initiatives such as the one signed today are important but they cannot replace international standards dictating obligatory respect for human rights by companies, he underlined.