In 2011, G4S senior management has shown a real determination to make the respect of human rights a priority across G4S businesses
This has focused on improvements to human rights due diligence and the duty of care to all G4S stakeholders.
Immediately after international agreement on the new United Nations Guidelines on Business and Human Rights in June 2011, G4S set in motion a human rights review. The review has combined a rights–sensitivity analysis of each G4S business sector to identify internal company human rights risks, and a geographical assessment to determine contextual operating risks worldwide. The sector analysis has identified a set of key human rights that are particularly relevant to each G4S business sector.
The geographical analysis has mapped particular high–risk countries. The review showed that G4S already respects human rights in a wide variety of ways but does so without consciously using a human rights framework or the language of rights. For example, G4S’s intense concern for the good working conditions of their staff, and G4S’s emphasis on customer care at detention centres, airports and large public events routinely involves a profound – but unspoken – respect for people’s rights.
Internationally, G4S has also played a lead role in developing new professional standards for the armed protection work of private security companies. These are firmly in line with international human rights and humanitarian law.
The challenge for 2012 will be to confirm G4S human rights policy, introduce an essential understanding of human rights to G4S staff, and develop simple guidelines on human rights due diligence, reporting and effective remedy. In line with the UN Guidelines, G4S will then be able to “know and show” their corporate impact on human rights.
Dr Hugo Slim
Senior Research Fellow, Oxford Institute for Ethics,
Law and Armed Conflict