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7 Jan 2022

Supporting Human Rights within the Pharmaceutical Supply Chain

A quarterly series blog posts about responsible supply chain management from the PSCI Chair, Manjit Singh

When people think about sustainability in the pharma supply chain, what first comes to mind is environmental issues like carbon emissions, packaging, or water.

These are major sustainability issues in their own right, but one central topic that is often forgotten about is human rights. The pharmaceutical industry is made up of people from all over the globe and those of us in the industry have a duty to ensure the rights of those people to fair working conditions, safety on the job, and fair pay are acknowledged and respected. At the Pharmaceutical Supply Chain Initiative (PSCI), we are committed to supporting all our members in implementing the United Nations’ Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs) and to ensure the organization’s actions are aligned with the UNGPs. We released our first-ever position statement on human rights to celebrate Human Rights Day, the day the United Nations General Assembly adopted, in 1948, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). The UDHR is a milestone document, which proclaims the inalienable rights that everyone is entitled to as a human being - regardless of race, color, religion, sex, language, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. Available in more than 500 languages, it is the most translated document in the world.


For business, the UNGPs are the key framework to follow. They are based on the International Bill of Human Rights and the ILO Core Labor Rights Conventions and provide guidance for States and companies to prevent, address, and remedy human rights abuses committed in business operations. We recognize that all companies have the corporate responsibility to respect human rights according to the UNGPs.


As the top membership body driving excellence in safety, environmental and social outcomes across the global pharma & healthcare supply chain, responsible business and supply chain practices are at our core and reflected in the PSCI Principles for Responsible Supply Chain Management. These Principles are the blueprint for responsible business conduct, setting our expectations for five relevant topics: Ethics, Human Rights & Labor, Health & Safety, Environment, and Management Systems. The Principles are also supported by three foundational commitments, including Human Rights. Hence, our commitment to the UNGPs is fully aligned with our purpose to bring together members to drive excellence in safety, environmental, and social outcomes across the whole of the pharmaceutical and healthcare supply chain.


Among all human rights which should be respected, for ease of implementation, the PSCI has developed standards on six issues that are most common in supply chains: (1) Freely Chosen Employment, (2) Child Labor and Young Workers, (3) Non-Discrimination, (4) Fair Treatment, (5) Wages, Benefits, and Working Hours, and (6) Freedom of Association. The standards set our expectations on these issues. As our member companies are committed to respect human rights, the PSCI expects that suppliers should be committed to respect human rights including labor rights according to the UNGPs and treat all people who may be impacted by their operations with dignity and respect. Our webinar on operationalizing the PSCI Human Rights Principles provides further guidance.


For all our members, we offer a maturity assessment against the six common Human Rights & Labor issues and seven further human rights topic areas. Based on our Maturity Model, companies can identify if their program is Starting, Developing, Implementing or Leading. We also provide a Learning Plan containing guidance, tools, and resources to enable our members to improve. The Learning Plan covers all the Principles and specifically the implementation of the UNGPs. All PSCI members are expected to support and incorporate the PSCI Principles into their key operational policies and supplier documents and agreements. Therefore for Human Rights & Labor, PSCI members are expected to reflect the UNGPs in their key operational policies and processes and implement UNGP requirements.


Together with our members, we understand that society and business are best served by responsible business behaviours and practices. With our training materials, webinars, and tools we aim not only to ensure the upholding of our Principles but also to support all our members in implementing the United Nations’ Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights in their supply chain.


Manjit Singh


Associate Director – Corporate Sustainability, Centrient Pharmaceuticals and Chair, PSCI