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UN framework on business and human rights


By dxw

Following the publication of draft Guiding Principles to implement the UN framework, we brought together government, business and civil society representatives to ‘road test’ the principles.

During his six-year mandate as the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative (SRSG) on business and human rights, Professor John Ruggie elaborated a three-pillar framework:  the state duty to protect human rights; corporate responsibility to respect human rights;  and the need for appropriate remedies, both judicial and non-judicial, when gaps exist and violations occur.

The Framework was unanimously endorsed by the UN’s Human Rights Council (HRC) in 2008.  In late 2010, the SRSG issued draft Guiding Principles proposing implementation of the framework, which will be considered by the HRC at its June 2011 session.  In advance of the HRC meeting, we convened the first informal multi-stakeholder consultation on the draft Guiding Principles.  It:

  • examined the draft Guiding Principles with a view to their practical application;
  • identified any possible unintended consequences their application may create;
  • ensured the draft Guiding Principles cover all key issues.


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(left to right) Kathryn Dovey, Director, Global Business Initiative on Human Rights, Puvan Selvanathan, Chief Sustainability Officer, Sime Darby Berhad and Andrew Vickers, Vice President, Policy and External Relations, Shell International BV


Key questions the conference considered include:

  • whether the due diligence process the draft principles envisage companies should undertake need to be more detailed;
  • the extent to which extra-territorial jurisdiction, the application of national laws to govern activities in another country, is constrained by either legal or political considerations
  • how to bridge the governance gap in high-risk or conflict-affected areas;
  • what follow-up mechanism is needed following the conclusion of the SRSG’s mandate in June 2011
  • how to engage more companies in implementing the UN Framework.


Further information

Human rights and business resource centre

Podcast on Business, human rights and the UN

Conference on The UN framework for business and human rights