The UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights: An Introduction

The UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights: An Introduction


businesses impact human rights wherever
and however they operate these impacts can be positive or they can be negative these days, companies are global — and that means their impact are too companies operate in poor countries, in
post-conflict countries, in countries where the local government
is unable or unwilling to enforce its own laws With all this complexity, it’s not
always clear who’s responsible for preventing companies from violating
human rights Is it the company’s fault for paying less
than a living wage? Or is it the government’s fault for setting the minimum wage below the poverty line? Victims of corporate human rights abuses
find themselves trapped between two actors who have no interest in making things right. In 2011, the United Nations
issued a set of principles that define the responsibilities of governments and businesses for solving this dilemma. So what do these principals say? There’s three pillars. The first says that governments have to make sure that businesses don’t violate anyone’s human rights that means passing laws that prevent
human rights violations, but also making sure those laws are
implemented. Some of the world’s largest multinational corporations are owned and operated by states. the Guiding Principles say that the government has to prevent human rights violations
by businesses, even if the state itself is acting like
one. The second pillar says that businesses have to refrain from violating human rights wherever and however they do business. That means it’s not enough for companies
to simply follow the law where they operate. Or audit a few of their suppliers. Even in countries where the government doesn’t take up its own duty, companies have to know their
human rights impacts and take concrete steps to improve them. The guiding principles don’t offer any
loopholes. Companies are responsible for all human rights. Doing things like building a school
or digging a well doesn’t get them out of their basic responsibility not to make their workers and
communities worse off. Companies have to perform human rights
due diligence. That means talking to the people whose lives they might be affecting. Like the government responsibility,
respecting human rights isn’t a switch that companies can turn on and off. It’s a continuous process. The third pillar of the Guiding
Principles is about what happens when something goes wrong. If a company abuses human rights,
governments have to make sure that the court system or some other legitimate process allows victims to file a complaint and that the complaint is investigated
and settled. Companies have this obligation too. Part of human rights due diligence is
allowing people affected by the company to file grievances and participating in processes to make
them right. Whatever route they choose, remedy mechanisms should fit with the
effectiveness criteria defined by the Guiding Principles If the court system is slow, or it costs
too much money, or it’s far away, it doesn’t count. So that’s what the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights say. So why are they important? First, the principles were unanimously approved by the UN Human Rights Council. Since then, they’ve been endorsed by
governments and business actors all over the world Before, we argued over who was
responsible for preventing human rights abuses by companies Now, thanks to the UN Guiding Principles,
we know who’s responsible. That means that, instead of arguing over the rules, we can get to work implementing them.

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About the Author: Oren Garnes

14 Comments

  1. Great video summary of the UNGPs. I will be sharing widely. Thanks for producing it. Are there any plans to create some videos around children's rights specifically?

  2. FYI: Corporations have rights. Now we need a global treaty on their responsibilities Salil Shetty: <http://www.theguardian.com/global-development-professionals-network/2015/jan/21/corporations-abuse-rights-international-law>  and SIGN ON HERE & JOIN THE 600+ GROUPS WHO ALREADY HAVE!  Joint Statement: Call for an international legally binding instrument on human rights, transnational corporations and other business enterprises <http://www.treatymovement.com/statement>

  3. Hi Mike, thanks for putting together a very clear and concise presentation. I would like to show it as part of a training i'm giving to Goldcorp employees on the company's new human rights policy. We will show it in its entirety, with the credits. Let me know if there are any specific conditions or credits to mention. Thanks. Marc

  4. Thanks to Mike support, it is now possible to see this video also with Polish subtitles. Enough to choose relevant option in the Settings of the video 🙂
    If you think that we can improve the Polish subtitles please contact: [email protected] //
    Video wprowadzające do Wytycznych ONZ dot. biznesu i praw człowieka jest już dostępne z polskimi napisami. Wystarczy wybrać odpowiednią opcję w Ustawieniach video.
    Jeśli uważacie, że napisy można poprawić prosimy o kontakt z Polskim Instytutem Praw Człowieka i Biznesu na adres [email protected]

  5. Just added Arabic subtitles!

    I've also changed the settings so you can submit your own translations of the captions. Just click on the settings button and then 'add subtitles/CC'. Thanks for all the interest in this!

  6. Great work. Can you share your contact details? I would like to ask permission to share the clip in an event and possibly develop something similar on a related issue

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