Doing the right thing when it comes to Human Rights
Nokia has a publicly available human rights policy which addresses the greatest risk in terms of Human Rights for our business which is the possible misuse of our technology.
We have a Human Rights Due Diligence (HRDD) process in place to enact on the commitments of our policy. This HRDD process is pre-emptive, rigorous, and covers both sales and Research and Development. Our Human Rights Policy states:
“At Nokia, we understand that human rights risks exist along our value chain, from supply chain management to the end-use of our technology by others. We have clear criteria, standards and processes with which we engage our suppliers to ensure respect of human rights. We have employee policies and practices to ensure our own operations are fully aligned with international human rights standards.”
It is important to understand what is meant when we talk about human rights in a business context. Fundamental human rights (like the right to life, liberty and security of person to name a few) were first set out and agreed upon in the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights (UNDHR) in 1948. Different legal and cultural backgrounds from all regions of the world participated and it has been translated into over 500 languages. The UNDHR paved the way for multiple other treaties concerning human rights. As multinational companies grew and evolved, questions arose about the responsibility and role of companies to respect human rights especially when operating in multiple jurisdictions around the world.
The UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs), published by the United Nations in 2011, aims to set a framework for businesses to prevent and address the risk of adverse impacts on human rights linked to business activity. This framework gives guiding principles that outline what a company’s responsibility is regarding human rights especially when operating in multiple jurisdictions. This is particularly relevant where differing levels of law concerning human rights exist between states. The UNGPs provide a framework which has become a de-facto standard: protect, respect and remedy.
Simply put, states have the duty to protect human rights –– companies have a duty to respect human rights and act with due diligence to avoid infringing on the rights of others. The framework also outlines the need to address any negative business-related impacts and have remedy for those who have been victims of business-related abuses. The UNGPs also make it clear that where the national laws fall below internationally recognized human rights, companies should respect the higher standard. Nokia signed up to the UNGPs in 2011 and have had rigorous HRDD in place since then.
Respect for human rights is simply the right thing to do. However, more and more it is also a requirement coming from regulators, stakeholders and customers. We are seeing an increase in regulations and reporting requirements coming into play. In the EU for example, this year the EU published a proposal for a Directive on corporate sustainability due diligence. In December 2021, the US together with UK, Canada, France and The Netherlands announced the Export Controls and Human Rights Initiative. In 2021, the EU made its first major reform to the structure of EU’s export control regime since 2009 which includes additional authority for EU regulators to restrict exports that may be used for internal repression or to commit violations of human rights.
We are proud of our approach to human rights and believe we have leading practices; it is part of the DNA of our company. To maintain this position, we continuously adapt, change and improve. For this reason we actively seek to work with our peers and stakeholders in the broader industry. We are board members in the Global Network Initiative which includes many multinational technology companies, service providers as well as non-governmental organizations, and academics looking at human rights in the information and communications technology sector.
As we look into the future, we see a continued increase in the codification of human rights principles, as well as the modernization of trade controls and an increase in their use to prevent human rights abuses. These trends are being closely followed by Nokia’s Human Rights and Trade Management teams to ensure Nokia maintains its edge in compliance and human rights leadership.
Fiona Cura-Pitre, Head of Human Rights
Eric Clark, counsel for Trade Management and Human Rights