The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), a United Nations specialised agency, and the Tourism Partnership
of the Prince of Wales International Business Leaders Forum (IBLF)
are forming a joint initiative on human rights, the Tourism and Human
The initiative will aim to create a framework to assist the tourism industry
address human rights within their own business operations.
The Tourism and Human Rights Initiative will recognise the UNWTO Global
Code of Ethics for Tourism as the overarching standard to guide the global
activities of the project, to be reinforced through the development and
adoption of a specific set of human rights principles for the industry,
with appendices for individual sectors.
“In a business context advancing human rights is both about managing risk
and realizing new opportunities,” said Lyndall De Marco, Executive Director
of the IBLF Tourism Partnership. “By respecting, protecting and promoting
human rights, companies can help contribute both to a stable operating
environment and the well-being of those within their spheres of influence
and responsibility. The case for corporate engagement is increasingly clear.
Tourism is a multifaceted industry. The human rights issues that impact
tourism firms are manifold and whilst there are issues - such as diversity
and health and safety - that will be applicable to all, a sector by sector
approach is also needed to reflect the differing human rights challenges
facing, for example, the airline industry compared to those confronting
According to Dawid de Villiers, Special Advisor to UNWTO on ethical
matters, “to be truly effective, the tourism industry needs to take a
comprehensive approach to human rights, encompassing a wide spectrum of
human rights issues, including, but not limited to, concerns around child
and bonded labour, workplace health and safety, commercial exploitation of
children, the exploitation of migrant workers, discrimination and the
displacement of indigenous people and other vulnerable groups”.
These human rights principles will equip participating companies with a
tool to respond to the full spectrum of human rights challenges confronting
the industry, and specific sector dilemmas. It will enable individual
companies to benchmark their human rights performance, and where necessary
take steps to update or expand the scope of existing human rights
Adopting a sector by sector approach and with the support and advice of
the highly respected IBLF’s human rights team, the members of the Tourism
Partnership will spearhead the process of creating a set of human rights
principles for the industry, in partnership with the UNWTO. The process
will be inclusive, and will involve broad consultation to ensure accuracy
and transparency, engaging with expert representatives from organisations
such as the International Labour Organization (ILO), the UN Global Compact,
the International Finance Corporation (IFC), UNDP, UNICEF, bilateral
development agencies and civil society groups such as Amnesty International,
Human Rights Watch and Save the Children.
As hotels are the larger and more complex group swithin the tourism sector
they will be the first to be addressed. This sector focussed approach
reflects views expressed in the interim report of the special
representative of the UN Secretary General on human rights and business .
In the report the special representative Professor John Ruggie states
“significant differences exist among various industry sectors in terms of
the types and magnitude of human rights .... such differences should be
reflected in public and private sector policy responses with business and
human rights (Promotion and Protection of Human Rights).
Further stakeholder consultation will follow in the form of sector
specific roundtable meetings to be held under the Chatham House Rule to
advance the initiative and develop the set of human rights principles for
the tourism industry, and appendices for individual sectors. The template
can be used to assist each business independently to integrate broader
human rights practices within their mainstream operations, and in the
long-term serve to raise industry-wide human rights performance and respond
to stakeholder expectations.
Looking to the future, a process of continuing discussion will be
developed involving members of IBLF’s Tourism Partnership and the UNWTO,
and in consultation with external stakeholders, to share learning around
the implementation of the human rights principles and emerging good