As the world’s largest annual gathering on business and human rights gets underway in Geneva this week, the private sector is calling on governments to heighten efforts to develop and implement national action plans.
Bringing together over 2,000 participants – including government, business, civil society and academia – the 2016 UN Forum on Business and Human Rights is a major opportunity to assess progress in relation to the United Nations’ Guiding Principles (UNGP) on Business and Human Rights, and other current business-related human rights issues.
Endorsed by the UN Human Rights Council in 2011, the Guiding Principles comprise 31 principles and commentary based on three pillars, implementing the UN’s “protect, respect and remedy” framework. They are a blueprint for what governments and companies need to do to put in place appropriate policies to respect human rights.
With only eight countries having implemented national action plans, USCIB and its global business partners are seeking to mobilize their national representatives to call on their respective governments to develop a national plan in order to align national laws with global standards.
In a joint statement, USCIB and other business groups issued a four-point paper stating that:
- Business supports the UN Framework and Guiding Principles and wishes to see States implement the State Duty to Protect human rights
- States should see NAPs as the opportunity to exercise leadership to build genuine commitment and
capacity to achieve tangible progress in standards, business behaviour and change for rights-holders
- States should engage with the business community to learn from their experiences in dealing with
human rights commitments, and
- State should use the NAPs as an opportunity for collective action.
Speaking during a forum panel on human rights and investment treaties, ICC Senior Policy Manager Viviane Schiavi underscored the world business organization’s pivotal role in promoting business implementation of the UN Guiding Principles, and highlighted how the newly launched 2012 ICC Guidelines for International Investment call on investing companies to respect the human rights of those affected by their activities, consistent with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. Read more on ICC’s website.