In line with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights our policies include a commitment to respect human rights, as well as due diligence requirements. We are working on integrating this across various areas. We have introduced a toolkit to provide practical guidance to our business units on the relevance of human rights to business, how to assess risk and develop mitigating actions. We have also strengthened our policies and efforts in key areas. Examples and more details on our approach to some of these can be found below.
Freedom of expression and privacy
Telecommunications plays an important role in enabling citizens to exchange ideas and express opinions, which can be beneficial for human rights and democratic development. Telecommunications is a tool that enables freedom of expression and privacy. In exceptional circumstances, telecommunications can be misused by governments, having an impact on human rights.
Telenor acknowledges that there are occasions in which governments must address societal needs, such as national security, requiring telecommunications companies to comply with requests that may impact privacy and freedom of expression. In these instances, Telenor believes that active engagement with governments, NGOs, the media and industry peers to be important in addressing how these issues are handled, verified and reported.
Telecommunications Industry Dialogue on Freedom of Expression and Privacy
Telenor Group is a founding member of the Telecommunications Industry Dialogue on Freedom of Expression and Privacy. Formally established on March 12, 2013, Telenor together with other major telecom operators and vendors a set of ten Guiding Principles and a collaboration with the Global Network Initiative (GNI).
The Guiding Principles address the issues of privacy and freedom of expression as they relate to the telecommunications sector, specifically exploring the interaction and boundaries between a government’s duty to protect human rights and the corporate responsibility of telecommunications companies to respect human rights.
The Industry Dialogue members report annually on their work to implement the Guiding Principles. Here is Telenor’s latest status on alignment with the Industry Dialogue Guiding Principles
Sharing and being Transparent on Respecting Human Rights
Telenor continued to focus on transparency and reporting, with, and for example, issuing an updated Authority Request access report and reporting on alignment with the ID Guiding Principles. The reports are available here.
Telenor also continued to develop its transparency efforts related to its operations in Myanmar with local seminars. Telenor held its fourth sustainability briefing in Myanmar, Monday, February 27, 2017.
Telenor is committed to respecting ILO’s fundamental conventions on labour rights. Telenor acknowledge that we are operating in markets with various legal requirements, culture and practices i.a. related to rights to freedom of association and the recognition of right to collective bargaining. Through our framework on employee involvement we are promoting partnership based on good and trusting dialogue. Telenor believes that our focus on promoting dialogue throughout the Group is an important vehicle to ensure that labour rights is a topic on the agenda,
To enhance information and discussions on transnational issues, we have established Telenor Works Council – Europe (TWC-E) where European employee representatives meet with the Telenor Group Management twice a year.
Telenor has also signed an agreement with UNI Global Union, the voice of 20 million service sector workers around the world, in order to establish a platform and framework for dialogue between UNI and Telenor on fundamental labour rights. Telenor recognizes the importance unions can play in representing employee interests, and the role UNI can take in this regard, based on their knowledge and competence concerning labour relations.
The mobile phone has great potential for contributing positively to people’s lives. Telenor believes that the mobile phone can help stimulate economic and societal development, bringing banking services to the unbanked, health-care services to even the most remote, and contribute to universal education. We call this approach ‘Enable’. In our Enable projects we also seek to include a rights respecting angle, e.g. through focusing on children’s rights, women’s rights or the right to health as part of our initiatives.