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Holy See diplomat calls for greater corporate responsibility in wake of Bangladesh disaster

June 03, 2013

Five weeks after a building collapse near Bangladesh’s capital killed over 1,100, one of the Holy See’s leading diplomats called upon corporations to make “a more robust respect for human rights” a priority.

“As recently as 2009, in the encyclical Caritas in Veritate, Pope Benedict XVI reminded us all that ‘among those who sometimes fail to respect the human rights of workers are large multinational companies as well as local producers,’” Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, who represents the Holy See at UN offices in Geneva, said on May 31. “It remains important for all, therefore, to recognize labor standards as an integral and important part of corporate social responsibility.”

“Freedom of association, the elimination of all forms of forced and compulsory labor, the abolition of child labor, and the effective elimination of discrimination in employment and payment must be respected and enforced in all jurisdictions,” he continued.

Archbishop Tomasi also called for greater discussion of the proper relationship between corporations and governments:

Another important aspect of the work that remains to be done in this arena is a more complete and deliberate consensus about the role and responsibility of corporations in society. While a great number of people and corporate leaders have successfully moved beyond the view that the maximization of profit is the sole reason and purpose for corporations, the support and adoption of the legal framework that can serve as a foundation for this new vision is still in its infancy. The search for a consensus that will provide the desirable balance between the role and responsibility of governments and the public sector and at the same time the space for private corporations to make their valuable contributions to the common good continues.


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