Human rights. International framework.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (the “Declaration”) adopted on 10 December 1948 by the UN General Assembly is the foundational document on human rights. The Declaration covers 30 rights that are inherent to all people, regardless of their origin, race, gender, religion,  or ethnicity. Human rights are universal and they guarantee fundamental rights and freedoms based on fundamental values – dignity and equality. The Declaration, together with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, adopted by the UN General Assembly on 16 December 1966, form the International Bill of Human Rights. The Conventions protect the civil, political, economic and cultural rights of citizens.

By ratifying the two Conventions the state of Bulgaria should respect, protect and fulfil human rights and fundamental freedoms, and adopt steps to ensure their realization by providing access to the judicial, health and social systems. The state cannot interfere directly or indirectly with the exercise of rights. 

The European Convention on Human Rights (“the Convention”) was adopted by the Council of Europe in 1950 and guarantees the fundamental rights and freedoms of citizens, containing general principles that are part of  European law. The Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union (the “Charter”) was signed on 7 December 2000, and in force from 1 December 2009, together with the Treaty of Lisbon it is based on the basic principles of the Convention on Human Rights as well as on accepted international instruments, such as the European Social Charter of 1961 and other significant practices of the European Court of Human Rights. The Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union offers additional legal protection to EU citizens, guaranteeing the rights of the child, the rights of the elderly, and the right to the protection of personal data, including the right to environmental protection.

Human rights protection is often associated with states’ obligation to take protective measures through legislation and providing legal protection, as well as the realization of rights related to education, health, work, a clean environment, etc.


In general, business enterprises contribute to economic development but also they play a key role in solving global crises such as pollution, pandemics, military conflicts and natural disasters that lead to climate change. Business enterprises are drawn or engaged in such global issues as their role expands and they have a much greater impact on the communities in which they operate through their value chains, supply chains, relationships with various stakeholders, and relationships with public institutions and investors. The fact that business enterprises are more active participants in the social aspect of societies also raises the question of the role of business enterprises in respecting human rights.

The business case for human rights

The question Why should business care about human rights?” was posed by UN High Commissioner Marie Robinson in 1998, who pointed out the role and influence of business enterprises in solving global problems. It emphasizes how business decisions can affect human rights directly or indirectly, and also what motivates business enterprises to take measures to respect human rights. The role of business is not to assume the function of the state to protect human rights, but rather to promote and encourage respect for human rights by sharing good practices within its sphere of influence. She shares the main reasons that contribute to the inclusion of human rights on the business agenda:

The development of globalization

The revolution of digital technologies

The privatization of state enterprises

Civil society development

These are just some of the factors contributing to the development of the topic of business and human rights, and recent years have seen the development of the link between respect for human rights and good company performance. One of the key drivers for improving companies’ human rights practices is covered in the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.