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The importance of stakeholder engagement in the corporate responsibility to respect human rights

30-09-2012 Article, International Review of the Red Cross, No. 887, by Barbara Dubach, Maria Teresa Machado


Over the past forty years, there has been a steady rise in the expectation for companies to operate as responsible citizens. Today companies have at their disposal a variety of initiatives, and new levels of accountability have been reached with the advancement of international standards on, among others, corporate responsibility to respect human rights. Against this background, this article provides an overview of the most important guiding tools available on this subject and on how to promote peace and stability when operating in conflict-affected or high-risk areas. The article argues that ongoing stakeholder engagement is a key success factor in meeting
the responsibility to respect human rights and that it has to be an integral part of a company’s strategy, especially when operating in conflict-affected countries.

Keywords: Stakeholder engagement, collaboration, corporate responsibility, human rights, due diligence, conflict management, multi-stakeholderism, partnerships.


After starting her career as environmental economist at the Federal Office of Environment in Switzerland, Dr Barbara Dubach worked for many years as Senior Vice President responsible for sustainable development coordination at Holcim and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development. In 2010 she created the centre of excellence Engageability, providing advice to profit and non-profit organisations on following a sustainable strategy for the benefit of all stakeholders.

Maria Teresa Machado started her career with international humanitarian and human rights organisations worldwide, including the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, the International Committee of the Red Cross, and Human Rights Watch, before furthering her experience to the fields of corporate social responsibility and sustainability. She joined Engageability as a consultant in the beginning of 2012.