Novartis maintains a strong commitment to upholding human rights and managing risk in our supply chain.
We respect and support the protection of human rights in our operations and supply chain as enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
We are committed to upholding the core labor standards set out by the International Labor Organization. Since 2001, Novartis has been a signatory of the UN Global Compact, endorsing the 10 universal principles covering human rights, labor, the environment and anti-corruption. This led to our first human rights guideline in 2003, and our revised Human Rights Guideline (PDF 0.2 MB) in 2017. We are committed to implementing the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, and incorporating all internationally recognized human rights – at a minimum those expressed in the International Bill of Human Rights (i.e., the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights) and the principles concerning fundamental rights set out in the International Labor Organization’s Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work. We expect the same of third parties with whom we work.
In 2020, our CEO became the first pharmaceutical CEO to sign onto the CEO Guide to Human Rights developed by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development.
The general obligation of each and every Novartis employee to respect human rights is defined in the Novartis Code of Ethics (PDF 4.1 MB). Human Rights topics are governed and managed by issue- and function-specific standards at Novartis, including the Novartis Third Party Code (PDF 0.6 MB), fair working conditions, professional practices and third-party risk management.
In 2019, the Human Rights program and Third-Party Risk Management (TPRM) were integrated into the Ethics, Risk, and Compliance (ERC) organization. With this move, the collaboration between the TPRM team and the ERC function helps provide greater transparency around one of our key risks: third parties. Given the elevated human rights risks when dealing with third parties, we merged our human rights and TPRM program into one function called Human Rights & Third-Party Risk Management. This helps ensure more effective human rights due diligence in our supply chain and ingrain human rights further into our core business practices and strategies across our markets.
Human Rights Strategy
We are implementing a five-year human rights strategy, which is based on the following elements:
Human rights in the supply chain and modern slavery
To demonstrate our commitment to addressing broader issues that affect people’s rights and livelihoods, we continue to take steps to prevent modern slavery – as defined in the UK and Australia modern slavery acts – in our operations and supply chains. We publish an annual statement (PDF 0.3 MB) explaining how we address modern slavery risks or impacts, and have developed an e-learning module on modern slavery.
We have taken concrete steps to address the risk areas identified in our annual human rights assessments. Overall, we have expanded our focus on human rights risks and impacts in our supply chain and in the communities where we work.
As we expand our efforts to protect human rights, we plan to conduct broader and more frequent consultations with patient groups, local communities, health authorities and supply chain partners throughout our operations. This will help us benchmark our efforts, measure our progress, and fulfill our ambition to become a leader in the healthcare sector for respecting and protecting the rights of people affected by our or our suppliers’ operations.
Codes, policies and resources
We are embedding human rights into all relevant Novartis policies and procedures.