IMG 6746
The United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights are an instrument that countries and the business sector can use to ensure the protection and respect for human rights, and the sanctioning of violations of human rights in business. The Human Rights Council endorsed the Guiding Principles in their resolution from June 2011.

UNGPs rest on three pillars:

  • Protection - countries must enact legislation and ensure implementation in order to prevent human rights violations by companies;
  • Respect - companies must ensure respect for human rights in their production facilities, and in the community they are located in;
  • Access to remedy - there must be clear procedures for reporting, processing and sanctioning human rights violations and the right to remedy has to be accessible.

In Bosnia and Herzegovina, the UN’s Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights came into the spotlight and on the political agenda during the implementation of the project “Improving Human Rights in the Business Sector” implemented by the Institute for Youth Development KULT.

To improve the respect for human rights in the business sector, the Institute for Youth Development KULT in cooperation with the Association of Employers of FBiH, with the support of the European Union, organized public consultations with businesses in multiple cities across BiH.  These consultations were used as the basis for developing the Questionnaire on Respect for Human Rights in Business.

The results of the questionnaire informed the process of developing the Baseline analysis of Human Rights in the BiH Business Sector, as well as the Methodology for Developing the Charter of Business and Human Rights in BiH. After designing the "Methodology for drafting the Charter on Business and Human Rights in BiH”, we proceeded with developing the full document. The Charter comprises 15 articles detailing the companies’ commitment to preventing human rights violations, involving stakeholders and allowing them to voice their needs, providing equal rights to all, fostering a safe work environment, forbidding forced labor and involvement in human trafficking and upholding the right to a confidential communication channel employees can use to report any violations.
A growing number of companies are adopting the Charter, with more than 80 companies already integrating and implementing the Charter on Business and Human Rights in their work.

The project also included preparations for the development of the BiH Framework Guidelines for the Implementation of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. Along with the Ministry of Human Rights and Refugees of BiH and the Delegation of the European Union, other institutions at state and entity levels, the Association of Employers of FBiH, the Association of Employers of Brčko District, the Alliance of Trade Unions of BiH and the Alliance of Employers of Republika Srpska were all involved in the process of developing the Framework Guidelines.

The BiH Framework Guidelines for the implementation of the UNGP 2021-2025 were finalized after a detailed preliminary process that included recommendations.  The United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights are an instrument comprising 31 principles for the implementation of the United Nations “Protect, Respect and Remedy” Framework concerned with human rights issues in the business sector. The Framework Guidelines were presented to representatives of all levels of government.

All the invested effort bore fruit when the BiH Framework Guidelines for the Implementation of the UNGP 2021-2025 were included in the work plan of the BiH Ministry of Human Rights and Refugees. The documents is expected to be adopted by the Council of Ministers this year.

Today, June 16, 2021 marks the 10-year anniversary of the UNGPs’ adoption by the United Nations, soon to be adopted by Bosnia and Herzegovina as well.
We want to take this opportunity to thank all our partners, representatives of all levels of government and the European Union for their participation in developing Framework Guidelines and for working with us on positioning Bosnia and Herzegovina as a country that protects human rights in the business sector.

Nermin tershouse

Today, the biggest co-working space in Bosnia and Herzegovina “Tershouse” hosted a ceremony attended by representatives of ten companies that decided to sign the Charter on Business and Human Rights.

The Charter comprises 15 articles detailing the companies’ commitment to preventing human rights violations, involving stakeholders and allowing them to voice their needs, providing equal rights to all, fostering a safe work environment, forbidding forced labor and involvement in human trafficking and upholding the right to a confidential communication channel employees can use to report any violations.

The Charter on Business and Human Rights was created through the project “Improving Human Rights Corporate Accountability in the BiH Business Sector” implemented by the Institute for Youth Development KULT in cooperation with the FBiH Employers’ Association and with the financial support of the European Union.

The majority of the companies that signed that Charter today work in IT and software development, mostly for international markets. In a joint statement, they noted that international markets require human rights protections to be integrated in all company policies and the principles outlined in the Charter will help them align their policies with the requirements of their markets they operate in. The latest signatories are: Tershouse d.o.o., Pear Shadow, MKODE d.o.o. Sarajevo, OR SaCode, Ankeboot d.o.o., Light Sail Solution d.o.o., OD UNRAVEL, Aqua Digital BH d.o.o., Ministry of Programming and Flower Factory d.o.o.

“We’re happy to join the ranks of BiH companies that have signed this Charter and pleased to have been able to host the Institute and our members that decided to integrate these principles in their operations. Since we, and the majority of our members, work on international markets, these principles are already an integral part of our policies, and we are glad to have an opportunity to express our commitment to them in writing”, said Nermin Šehić, Director of Tershouse d.o.o.

The Charter on Business and Human Rights is based on United Nations Guiding Principles and is the first step on the road to creating a state-level action plan for protecting human rights in the business sector. Before we developed the Charter, we conducted a survey to gauge the awareness of companies about issues related to human rights.  Results of the survey indicate that companies, especially small ones, are unaware that their operations may jeopardize human rights.

“We decided to sign this Charter because it’s based on one of the main postulates of our company, which we believe should be at the core of every other company as well, in BiH and globally. We’re glad that the Institute for Youth Development KULT managed to implement this initiative in BiH”, said Sara Lerota, who works at the Ministry of Programming.

Zajednička fotografija s Poveljama

The full text of the Charter is available here: www.mladi.org/myURL/povelja. All companies in BiH are encouraged to sign the Charter as a sign of their commitment to protecting human rights. If you are interested in joining the ranks of Charter signatories, you can fill out the questionnaire here.

We continue bringing you stories about volunteers in Bosnia and Herzegovina and this time we are taking to Brčko, the northeast of Bosnia and Herzegovina, to meet Suad Murselović. Suad was born in Brcko, and finished primary and secondary school in Tuzla. After graduating from the "Meša Selimović" high school, he decided to study law and enrolled at the Faculty of Law, University of Tuzla.  He is currently volunteering at the Bravo Association and mentoring other volunteers.

I remember when I was in 5th grade and my Biology teacher chose me to be a simulator during a Red Cross first aid competition held at the University hall in Tuzla. I didn't know exactly what to do, but curiosity won over reason, to put it that way. That was my foray into volunteering, and I’m happy to say I’ve continued doing it and have no intention of stopping.

As a volunteer, Suad had the opportunity to travel outside of Bosnia and Herzegovina thanks to the EVS and Erasmus + programs.

“My favorite experience as a volunteer was the EVS long-term volunteering program in Spain, where I visited Logrono and the La Rioja region. I could talk to you for days about Spain and Logrono, but there’s no time for that now, I know. Having the opportunity to live, work and study in a completely different environment from the one you were born and raised in is just invaluable. Learning about a new culture, customs and language made me see that life can be a completely different, more beautiful and interesting, and that was a crucial takeaway for me."

Suad thinks education is never finished, because it’s a lifelong process. Times and circumstances change, so it is very important that we invest more time and energy in our education so we can keep up with the times.

Time. The best thing you can do for someone is give them your time. When you volunteer you’re actually giving a part of your life, you’re giving your time to someone and not expecting anything in return. But on the other hand, somewhere out there there are other people and other volunteers, dozens of them, who share the same vision as you, and they chose to give their time to you.

Volunteering can teach so many lessons. You have to look around at the people and world around you, and you’ll see it’s a space teeming with opportunities, said Suad.

“The best thing you can do for yourself is take the opportunity to learn, travel, experience new things and meet new people. Not everything you need to learn is written in books, there’s something to be said for the knowledge that awaits us once we leap into the unknown. Volunteering is one of the few opportunities that can give you this experience."

When asked: "Where do you see yourself a couple of years from now?" Suad replied:

I see myself here, in Bosnia and Herzegovina, because I feel I’m exactly where I need to be.

Suad ended his story by saying that Bosnia and Herzegovina has brilliant young people and as for his message, he said:

They don't need a message, young people just need to be given the opportunity to show everything they can, know and want to do.

The European Solidarity Corps builds on the achievements of more than 25 years of European programs in the fields of volunteering and youth, especially on the experience of the European Voluntary Service, the “EU Aid Volunteers” initiative and the European Solidarity Corps programs from 2018 to 2020. Participation in these mobility projects is a stimulating experience that builds young people's self-confidence and helps them develop their skills and competencies while contributing to community development. Young people interested in taking part in this program can register on the European Solidarity Corps portal.

In an effort to promote volunteering as a valuable contribution to our society and an opportunity for personal and community development, the Institute for Youth Development KULT and UN Volunteers in BiH are presenting a series of stories about volunteers and volunteering in Bosnia and Herzegovina. #togetherwecan

Together we can

Volunteers are very important in every society! This is particularly evident in crisis situations. In 2020, we have been in crisis mode almost continuously, and the work done by volunteers has proven invaluable in efforts to overcome many of the challenges we faced. Today we celebrate International Volunteers Day, and volunteers want us to know that together we can respond to all the challenges and support our communities and the society.

International Volunteer Day was mandated by the United Nations Assembly on December 5, 1985.     This day is an opportunity to promote volunteering and encourage competent institutions to support the work of volunteers and recognize their contribution to achieving sustainable development goals at all levels in the country.

The Institute for Youth Development KULT, in partnership with United Nations Volunteers and with the support of the European Union, celebrated International Volunteer Day by organizing a panel discussion to galvanize a dialogue on opportunities provided by laws on volunteering, the implementation of these laws in practice, and obstacles to fully implementing all legal mechanisms and supporting volunteers in BiH.

All the participants concluded that more effort needs to be put in implementing laws on volunteering and noted that cross-sectoral cooperation has to be improved. Competent entity ministries, and the relevant department in Brčko District of BiH have to be more open to working with CSOs, and organizations also need to show more interest in engaging in institutional dialogue. Participants of the panel discussion emphasized that abusing the Law and taking advantage of volunteers has to stop because volunteering is intended to inspire positivity and contribute to the development of communities and society.  Everyone agreed that volunteers are not all young people and that older volunteers are sometimes unfairly neglected, although their experience, knowledge and skills are a major contribution not only to the society but also to promoting volunteering.

ZOOM Together we can

Volunteerism is one of the most vital delivery mechanisms for social, environmental and economic transformation, ensuring a lasting impact with its ability to change people’s mindsets, attitudes and behaviors. Promoting personal and corporate volunteering will contribute to peace and development by advocating for the recognition of volunteers and integrating volunteerism into development programming”, said Mr. Gianluca Vannini, Head of Operations Section for Social Development, Civil Society and Cross Border Cooperation of the Delegation of the EU to BiH.

The Institute for Youth Development KULT worked on developing and advocating for the adoption of the Law on Volunteering of FBiH, which was adopted in 2012. The Institute has ever since been working on implementing and promoting the Law among government institutions, other organizations and young volunteers.  Over the past decade, the Institute has provided more than 3 million BAM for youth initiatives based on volunteer work.  Volunteers contributed to all of the Institute’s achievements over the past 18 years, and the Institute wants volunteers to know that their work is very important and that together we really can face all the challenges thrown in our way.  Another strong source of support in this context is the European Union, which is funding a project called “Improving Human Rights in the Business Sector” focusing on corporate volunteering.  We wish a happy International Volunteer Day to all volunteers and we hope that next year we will be celebrating this day with a large-scale voluntary activity.

©2021 Institut za razvoj mladih KULT. All Rights Reserved.

Search