Select Committee on International Development Minutes of Evidence

Supplementary memorandum submitted by Save the Children UK


  "Promotes (in collaboration with the Department of Trade and Industry) increasing corporate involvement in HIV/AIDS, and focus on HIV as part of corporate sector social responsibility in relation to employees, their children and the wider social environment."

  Mindful that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights calls on "every organ of society" to promote and protect human rights, Save the Children believes that it is the duty of government to ensure that, among other actors, the private sector takes its own responsibility for this mission. DFID should therefore pro-actively work with the DTI and the FCO to use every available channel to urge large British companies operating overseas to take positive action to protect and promote the rights of people infected or affected by HIV/AIDS. In addition, as part of its anti-poverty mandate, DFID should work with foreign governments, chambers of commerce and other bilateral and multilateral donors to urge foreign companies, large and small, to do the same.

  Company action should have expanding spheres of influence, from the company's core business operations (employment policies, workforce education, client and customer advocacy/education) to its business partners (supply chain support, peer education/advocacy), its local communities (education, care provision etc with local NGOs), and in the policy arena (national AIDS strategies).

  In particular, Save the Children recommends that DFID:

    —  works to ensure that companies adhere to existing regional and national codes on HIV/AIDS and employment, such as that of SADC, and build the capacity of national government to monitor adherence. Where such codes do not exist, DFID should support their development in order to promote and protect the employment rights of people infected or affected by HIV/AIDS;

    —  urges companies, given the widespread evidence of the cost effectiveness of employers' treatment and counselling programmes[11], to provide such services to employees infected or affected by HIV/AIDS in liaison with NGOs and governmental organisations;

    —  ensures that companies protect the rights of the children of such employees, for example by ensuring that the burden of parental care does not obstruct their right to education; children's inheritance rights are protected; quality HIV-related ante-natal education is provided;

    —  encourages companies to carry out peer education and prevention programmes for their workforce and dependents. Special attention should be paid to the families and home communities of migrant employees;

    —  promotes company-led customer education and prevention programmes aimed at both children and adults, such as retail outlet initiatives, social marketing;

    —  emphasizes the responsibility of multinational companies to support the small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in their supply chains to address HIV/AIDS in the workplace as above, by sharing resources and costs in proportion to the value accrued up the supply chain.

    —  plays a direct role in promoting and supporting SME coalitions to develop low cost workforce policies and programmes on HIV/AIDS;

    —  encourages companies to influence and work with peers in local business environment and professional associations for responsible approach to HIV/AIDS;

    —  works with appropriate players in government and business to ensure that insurance companies can sustain equitable policies towards people infected or affected by HIV/AIDS; and

    —  promotes an active role for companies in national AIDS coalitions.

Save the Children UK

October 2000

11   eg finding of Volkswagen Brazil that providing these services led to a 40 per cent reduction in costs associated with HIV/AIDS-Business Responses to HIV/AIDS, UNAIDS et al, 2000: p 21. Back

previous page contents

House of Commons home page Parliament home page House of Lords home page search page enquiries index

© Parliamentary copyright 2001
Prepared 29 March 2001