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"As long as human rights are violated, there can be no foundation for peace. How can peace grow where speaking the truth is itself a crime?"

Joint civil society statement - Advancing the global business and human rights agenda

May 28, 2011

Advancing the global business and human rights agenda:

Follow-up to the work of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) on human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises


May 2011


The mandate of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) on human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises, Prof. John Ruggie, will come to an end in June. As the Human Rights Council considers his final report, it should take the opportunity to reaffirm its goal to advance the protection of human rights in relation to business activity and assess progress to that end. Importantly, it also should establish a robust follow-on mechanism that builds on and complements the substantial work of the SRSG.

We recognize the SRSG's commitment to addressing business and human rights issues and the progress achieved during his tenure. We appreciate in particular that the “Protect, Respect, Remedy” framework put forward by the SRSG and adopted by the Council in 2008 broadly reinforces core human rights principles. The challenge remains ensuring that in practice States uphold their duty to protect, companies meet their responsibility to respect, and victims are able to exercise their right to an effective remedy. At present, major gaps in protection leave individuals and communities vulnerable to abuse, serious obstacles impede them when they seek redress, and those responsible are only rarely held to account. It is vital that the Council's work on business and human rights address this reality and respond to the needs of victims.

In his final report before the Council, the SRSG offers numerous suggestions to States and companies in the form of “Guiding Principles for the Implementation of the UN “Protect, Respect, Remedy. Framework.” The Guiding Principles do address a range of topics in a useful manner; however, some important issues that merit attention are not adequately reflected or addressed.

To further facilitate implementation of the Framework and address outstanding issues consistent with international human rights standards, additional steps are needed. For example, the SRSG himself has recognized that supplementary measures such as a multilateral legal instrument on business and human rights may be required to provide greater clarity and increase legal protections.

More generally, there is a clear need for a strong follow-on mechanism to complement the work to date. We note that the SRSG mandate lacked the standard capacity of other UN Special Procedures to receive information relating to specific-instances and conduct country visits. We firmly believe that the Council should bring the business and human rights mandate in line with other thematic mandates by including the explicit remit to seek and receive information concerning alleged business-related human rights abuses. In this way, the Council can learn how the Framework and Guiding Principles are applied in practice, with a view to identifying relevant issues, informing future action and ensuring that the perspectives and experiences of victims of human rights abuse are considered.

With this in mind, we urge the Council to follow up on the SRSG's work and advance the global business and human rights agenda by establishing a Special Procedure to perform the following priority functions:


  1. Assess the implementation by States and non-State actors of the ‘Protect, Respect and Remedy’ Framework, with reference to the proposed Guiding Principles and to all applicable and relevant international responsibilities and obligations, including by carrying out country visits, collecting best practices and receiving and seeking information from States, businesses, rights-holders and other relevant sources, and by issuing recommendations to relevant States, business and other non-State actors.


  1. With a view to developing an international legal instrument, analyze the options for addressing weaknesses and inconsistencies in the legal protection of human rights including, but not limited to, those related to gross human rights abuses and make recommendations for action. This analysis might best take the form of a consultative and comprehensive report to be issued with a view to advancing an inter-governmental standard setting process.


  1. Make any other supplemental recommendations to States and businesses and elaborate additional guidance as needed, especially in a manner which responds to the experiences and difficulties faced by victims of business-related human rights abuse in relation to access to justice. We also support the inclusion in a new mandate of functions, such as those below, to help ensure that the work of the Special Procedure is well integrated and responsive to stakeholders.


  1. Carry out periodic consultative reviews with stakeholders to evaluate the functionality of the Guiding Principles and to consider other relevant issues.

     

  2. Identify and where practicable facilitate advisory and capacity-building services to governments, civil society and victims of business-related human rights abuses, in collaboration with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

     

  3. Coordinate with other international, regional and national mechanisms to ensure the highest standards of human rights protection across relevant multilateral, regional and national organs and instruments.


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Signatory organisations: 

Organization 
Country 

1. ActionAid International 
2. Alliance Sud Switzerland 
3. Amnesty International
4. Armanshahr Foundation/OPEN ASIA Afghanistan 
5. Article 19 International 
6. ASETUC Malaysia 
7. Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-International 
ASIA) 
8. AUR -The National Association of Human Resources Romania 
Specialists 
9. Australian Corporate Accountability Network (ACAN) Australia 
10. Berne Declaration Switzerland 
11. Bread for All Switzerland 
12. Cambodian Housing Rights Task Force Cambodia 
13. Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Cambodia 
Rights (LICADHO) 
14. Canada Tibet Committee Canada 
15. Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) USA 
16. Center for Economic and Social Rights (CESR) International 
17. Centro de Derechos Humanos y Ambiente (CEDHA) Argentina 
18. CIDSE International 
19. Ecumenical Council for Corporate Responsibility (ECCR) UK 
20. European Coalition for Corporate Justice (ECCJ) International 
21. Fédération Internationale des Droits de l'Homme (FIDH) International 
22. Friends of the Earth International International 
23. GoedeWaar.nl Netherlands 
24. Halifax Initiative Canada 
25. Human Rights Law Centre Australia 
26. Human Rights Watch International 
27. IKV Pax Christi Netherlands 
28. Imparsial Indonesia 
29. India Committee of the Netherlands Netherlands 
30. Indonesian Working Group on Human Rights (HRWG-Indonesia 
Indonesia) 
31. International Commission of Jurists International 
32. International Network for Economic, Social and Cultural International 
Rights (ESCR-Net) 
33. Justiça Global Brazil 
34. KontraS Indonesia Indonesia 
35. Lumière Synergie pour le Développement Senegal 
36. MISEREOR Germany 
37. Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP) Nigeria 
38. MultiWatch Switzerland 
39. Network Movement for Justice and Development Sierra Leone 
40. Observatorio de Responsabilidad Social Corporativa Spain 
41. Oxfam International International 
42. Participatory Research & Action Network (PRAN) Bangladesh 
43. Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA) Philippines 
44. Project on Organizing, Development, Education, and Mexico/USA 
Research (PODER) 
45. Rights & Accountability in Development (RAID) International 
46. SHERPA France 
47. Society for Threatened Peoples Switzerland Switzerland 
48. SPEAK Network UK 
49. Swiss Working Group on Colombia (Arbeitsgruppe Schweiz-Switzerland 
Kolumbien) 
50. SWISSAID Switzerland 
51. Taiwan Association for Human Rights Taiwan Association for Human Rights Taiwan 
52. Tebtebba -Indigenous Peoples International Centre for Philippines 
Policy Research and Education 
53. Thai Committee for Refugees Foundation (TCR) Thailand 
54. Unia Switzerland 
55. Vietnam Committee on Human Rights Vietnam 


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