This conference constitutes the seventh of our annual human rights meetings sponsored by the Norwegian and Swiss Governments, which brought together human rights experts from governments in all regions with practitioners, academics and other non-governmental expertise. In June 2011, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative, Professor John Ruggie, will present his final report to the Human Rights Council on the UN framework for business and human rights, in particular the ‘Guiding Principles’ which provides the implementation of the UN framework ‘Protect, Respect, Remedy’.
Key questions discussed include:
- the interdependence of the three pillars of the framework;
- whether the due diligence process the GPs envisage companies should undertake needs to be more detailed, for example by providing quality criteria and a strong mechanism for international quality control;
- 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, and whether it should not be utilised more frequently in relation to overseas activities of multinational companies;
- the feasibility, or desirability, of drafting a new international instrument to close the governance gap which has allowed companies to operate in what some see as ‘law-free’ zones in conflict affected areas;
- how a strong follow-up mechanism, engaging all stakeholders, may be established at the conclusion of the SRSG’s mandate to drive better practice by states and companies;
- whether a sectoral approach represents a useful way forward to implement the GPs;
- how a major ‘marketing campaign’, particularly among companies, may be conducted to disseminate information about the GPs, once these are endorsed, to ensure they become embedded in both corporate as well as government culture.