AGM date
Previous AGM date
Resolution details
Company ticker
Resolution ask
Adopt or amend a policy
ESG theme
  • Social
ESG sub-theme
  • Human rights
Type of vote
Shareholder proposal
Filer type
Company sector
Health Care
Company HQ country
United States
Resolved clause
RESOLVED, that shareholders of Bristol-Myers Squibb Company (“BMS” or the “Company”) urge the board of directors to adopt a comprehensive human rights policy, referencing internationally recognized human rights standards, that applies to both its own operations and its suppliers that includes the right to the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health and establishes a process to identify, prevent, mitigate, and remedy adverse human rights impacts, above and beyond supplier audits, including consultation with stakeholders. 
Supporting statement
BMS currently has a “Position on Human Rights” (“Position”), which states that BMS “fully supports the principles established under the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Labour Organization Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work.”[1] BMS also has issued Standards of Business Conduct and Ethics for Third Parties (the “Standards”) in which the Company sets forth expectations for suppliers. Neither the Position nor the Standards mentions the human right to health--“the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health”—as recognized in Article 12.1 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (“ICESCR”)[2] 
Access to medicines is a key component of the right to health.[3] Target 3.8 of Sustainable Development Goal 3 assesses progress toward “access to safe, effective, quality and affordable essential medicines and vaccines for all.”[4] The UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Health has made clear that responsibility for increasing access to medicines is shared between states and pharmaceutical firms[5] and recommends that firms “should adopt a human rights policy statement which expressly recognises the importance of human rights generally, and the right to the highest attainable standard of health in particular.”[6] Novartis has adopted a human rights commitment statement that incorporates the right to health, including access to medicine, and references the ICRSCR.[7] BMS, as a global pharmaceutical firm, should do so as well.
Although BMS has disclosed information about its access programs[8] and management systems,[9] it does not explain in the Position or Standards how it implements its support for human rights. A process to identify, prevent, mitigate, and remedy adverse human rights impacts–”human rights due diligence” defined by the U.N. Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights–is a key part of a comprehensive human rights policy. The Pharmaceutical Supply Chain Initiative Principles, which BMS says it supports,[10] contemplate supplier audits,[11] whose effectiveness has been questioned.[12]  Including a human rights due diligence process in its human rights policy, as Novartis has done,[13] would enable BMS to identify potential impacts before they occur, track its human rights performance, and embed human rights in its operations.
[5], paras. 82-93.
[8];;, at 23.
[12], at 14;, at 8

DISCLAIMER: By including a shareholder resolution or management proposal in this database, neither the PRI nor the sponsor of the resolution or proposal is seeking authority to act as proxy for any shareholder; shareholders should vote their proxies in accordance with their own policies and requirements.

Any voting recommendations set forth in the descriptions of the resolutions and management proposals included in this database are made by the sponsors of those resolutions and proposals, and do not represent the views of the PRI.

Information on the shareholder resolutions, management proposals and votes in this database have been obtained from sources that are believed to be reliable, but the PRI does not represent that it is accurate, complete, or up-to-date, including information relating to resolutions and management proposals, other signatories’ vote pre-declarations (including voting rationales), or the current status of a resolution or proposal. You should consult companies’ proxy statements for complete information on all matters to be voted on at a meeting.