Executive Summary

Human Rights Outlook 2023

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The backdrop to the current global human rights situation is cause for concern. According to our data, political risk is at the highest level we’ve seen in the last five years, driven by rising levels of civil unrest in populations reacting to socio-economic pressures that are, in turn, the result of inflamed geopolitical tensions, increases in armed conflict and ongoing financial instability. Add in the climate crisis and the impacts of weather-related events on economies, societies and food production and it’s difficult to reach any other conclusion than the world is facing a period of prolonged instability.

Our portfolio of 26 labour, civil and political rights indices reveals a very slight increase in risk for human rights globally over the last five years. However, we haven’t yet seen the impacts of the issues laid out above materialise to their full extent. This leaves the trajectory of human rights in a precarious place.

The upshot for business and investors is that managing these issues is becoming a more complex challenge, especially in the face of hardening regulations governing the disclosure of human rights risks in supply chains and investment portfolios. In this year’s Human Rights Outlook, our experts delve into five issues sitting at the intersection of Environmental, Social, Geopolitical and Political risk, which are key to understanding how the human rights landscape will develop in the months and years ahead, and where organisations need to focus their attention.

Bridging these interconnections of risk, our analysis dissects issues as diverse as China’s ambitions to rewrite global human rights norms via the UN, to rollbacks in civil, political and labour rights across key emerging markets. From the megacities where heavy-handed state responses to rising civil unrest are creating security and reputational risks, to the emerging regulatory and the legal challenges companies will face from the aggregation of environmental and human rights harms in litigation and laws.

While society and business continue to navigate an unsettled global risk environment, the future human rights situation is not all bleak. Social risks are no longer being drowned out by the historically larger E-focus on emissions and climate change. Instead, the Outlook highlights that these issues are converging in many ways.

This presents an opportunity for investors and business, allowing for a sustained and impact-driven revival that has the potential to improve the lives of billions and protect businesses’ most important assets. As pressure grows on companies to improve their ESG performance, those grasping that opportunity will also be better placed to ride out the wave of current instability.

Matthew Moshiri

President, Verisk Maplecroft

Human Rights Outlook 2023 - Complete the form to download the full report

HRO 2023 report

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