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Response to UN Business and Human Rights

About this consultation 

On 7 July 2020, the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights (UNWG) launched a new global project, ‘Business and human rights: towards a decade of global implementation.” Also known as “UNGPs 10+ / Next Decade BHR,” the project is centred around the upcoming tenth anniversary of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs), the global authoritative framework on business and human rights that was unanimously endorsed by the UN Human Rights Council in June 2011. See the UN open call for input on UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights – towards a decade of global implementation.

The project is taking stock of practice to date, identifying gaps and challenges, and developing a vision and roadmap for scaling up implementation of the UNGPs over the course of the next decade. The project’s consultation process is being carried out in collaboration with OHCHR, UN Development Programme, and others. The UN Working Group seeks to hear perspectives from a wide range of stakeholders from all regions, including government actors, international organizations, national human rights institutions, industry organizations, businesses, consumer associations, investors, trade unions, representatives of affected communities, indigenous peoples, human rights defenders, civil society organizations, professional associations and groups, academia, and others.

Background

The unanimous endorsement of the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights: Implementing the United Nations “Protect, Respect and Remedy” Framework by the UN Human Rights Council in June 2011, represented a watershed moment in efforts to address adverse impacts on people resulting from business activities in all sectors. For the first time there was a globally recognized and authoritative framework for the respective duties and responsibilities of Governments and business enterprises to prevent and address such impacts. The Guiding Principles outlined the steps to take in order to meet existing State obligations and normative standards for business, set out under three pillars:

  • The State duty to protect against human rights abuses by third parties, including business, through appropriate policies, regulation and adjudication;
  • The corporate responsibility to respect human rights, which means to avoid infringing on the rights of others and to address adverse impacts with which a business is involved, by adopting appropriate policies, exercising human rights due diligence and enabling remediation of harms that occur; and
  • The need for access to effective remedy for rights-holders when abuse has occurred, through both judicial and non-judicial grievance mechanisms.

Proposed changes 

All interested stakeholders are invited by the UNWG to:

  • Respond to the UN via the “Have your say!” written input survey, to help inform the stocktaking exercise and the roadmap for the next decade. Deadline: 30 November 2020.
  • Share brief summaries (2 pages) of relevant materials (e.g., reports, research, other relevant publications). Deadline: ongoing basis until end of February 2021.

All interested stakeholders are invited by the UNWG to address the following questions:

  1. Where has progress taken place in UNGPs implementation over the course of the last decade? What are the promising developments and practices (by governments, businesses, international organizations, civil society organizations, etc.) that can be built on?
  2. Where do gaps and challenges remain? What has not worked to date?
  3. What are key obstacles (both visible and hidden), drivers, and priorities that need to be addressed to achieve fuller realization of the UNGPs?
  4. What systemic or structural challenges need to be tackled to realize sustainable development based on respect for human rights?
  5. In concrete terms, what will be needed in order to achieve meaningful progress with regard to those obstacles and priority areas? What are actionable and measurable targets for key actors in terms of meeting the UNGPs’ expectations over the coming years?
  6. Any other comments?