Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights endorsed by UNHRC

The UNHRC has adopted the “Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights: Implementing the United Nations ‘Protect, Respect and Remedy’ Framework” that was submitted by John Ruggie, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Business and Human Rights.

The Guiding Principles (found here) do not have any binding effect on any State nor do they create any new international law obligations. However, John Ruggie believes that the UNHRC endorsement of the Principles will establish them as a global reference point for human rights and business and they will provide civil society, investors and others the tools to measure real progress in the daily lives of people.

These Guiding Principles are grounded in recognition of:

  1. States’ existing obligations to respect, protect and fulfil human rights and fundamental freedoms;
  2. The role of business enterprises as specialized organs of society performing specialized functions, required to comply with all applicable laws and to respect human rights;
  3. The need for rights and obligations to be matched to appropriate and effective remedies when breached.

These Guiding Principles (31 in all) apply to all States and to all business enterprises, both transnational and others, regardless of their size, sector, location, ownership and structure.

The implications of these Guiding Principles for lawyers was discussed in a recent panel discussion, the summary of which can be found here.