Introduction to business and human rights
Under the United Nations “Protect, Respect and Remedy” framework, it is the duty of national Governments to protect people within their territory and/or jurisdiction against human rights abuses committed by third parties, including businesses. At the same time, businesses are expected to respect human rights — by not infringing the human rights of others (directly or indirectly). Both States and businesses are also expected to enable access to effective remedy (both judicial and non-judicial) for victims of human rights violations where they do occur.
As the global authoritative standard on business conduct in relation to human rights, the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs) offer high-level guidance on how businesses can operationalize their obligations under the “Protect, Respect, Remedy” framework. Unanimously endorsed by the UN Human Rights Council in 2011, the UNGPs set expectations of States and companies about how to prevent and address negative impacts on human rights by business. The dilemma for responsible businesses is how to respect human rights in practice, particularly where they face complex social, political and economic contexts or situations that do not have easy straightforward solutions.
The BHR Navigator aims to help businesses better understand the most common human rights issues that they may come into contact with — either through their own operations or their supply chain — and how these can be managed. This includes the following due diligence steps outlined in the UNGPs:
- Policy development
- Impact assessment
- Integration/actions to address impacts
- Performance tracking
- Communication of performance
- Remediation and grievance mechanisms
- An overview of the human rights issue
- Risk factors for key industries
- Due diligence suggestions
- Case studies
- Additional recommended resources