Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights: Implementing the United Nations “Protect, Respect and Remedy” Framework

Yesterday the UN Human Rights Council endorsed  the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.  The Principles, while non-binding, are designed to provide a global standard for preventing and addressing breaches of human rights caused by business activities.  The press release from the UNHCHR goes on:

“The Council’s endorsement establishes the Guiding Principles as the authoritative global reference point for business and human rights,” said John Ruggie, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Business and Human Rights. “They will also provide civil society, investors and others the tools to measure real progress in the daily lives of people.”

The Guiding Principles are the product of six years of research led by Professor Ruggie from Harvard University, involving governments, companies, business associations, civil society, affected individuals and groups, investors and others around the world. They are based on 47 consultations and site visits in more than 20 countries; an online consultation that attracted thousands of visitors from 120 countries; and voluminous research and submissions from experts from all over the world.

The new standards outline how States and businesses should implement the UN “Protect, Respect and Remedy” Framework in order to better manage business and human rights challenges.

Under the ‘State Duty to Protect,’ the Guiding Principles recommend how governments should provide greater clarity of expectations and consistency of rule for business in relation to human rights. The ‘Corporate Responsibility to Respect’ principles provide a blueprint for companies on how to know and show that they are respecting human rights. The ‘Access to Remedy’ principles focus on ensuring that where people are harmed by business activities, there is both adequate accountability and effective redress, judicial and non-judicial.

In giving its endorsement, the Human Rights Council commended Professor Ruggie for developing the UN “Protect, Respect and Remedy” Framework, and recognized the role of the Guiding Principles in providing comprehensive recommendations for its implementation.

A link to the principles in the press release has not been working, but a copy of the Principles may be obtained here. Human Rights Watch has been critical of the Principles for failing to take the opportunity to do more.

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