October 17, 2008
Operationalizing the Framework for Business and Human Rights
Posted by Christiana Ochoa

In June 2008, John Ruggie,  the Special Representative to the Secretary General on the Issue of Business and Human Rights (SRSG) issued his final report under his 2005 mandate. I have summarized and analyzed that report here and blogged on it here. After unanimously welcoming the framework established in that report, the Human Rights Council extended the SRSG’s mandate for another three years, asking that he use his renewed mandate to “operationalize” the framework.

The framework is built on three principles – the State duty to protect against human rights abuses, the corporate responsibility to respect human rights, and the need for more and improved access to remedies for victims of abuses. The new mandate addresses each of these principles and requests that they each be furthered.

Earlier this week, the SRSG released a preliminary work plan for his current mandate providing illustrations of the policy and legal approaches the SRSG is committed to or is considering pursuing. They include:

Under the state duty to protect:

  • Improving access to judicial remedies
  • Continuing the SRSG’s work on investment treaties and host government contracts
  • Examining the role of export credit and investment guarantee agencies
  • Exploring the particular difficulties of operationalizing the framework in conflict zones
  • Encouraging a corporate culture of respect through various means, including the possibility of using corporate law tools to this end.

Under the corporate responsibility to respect:

  • Developing “a set of guiding principles on the corporate responsibility to respect and related accountability measures.”
  • Further elaborating concepts such as “the scope and nature of corporate due diligence to avoid human rights abuses.

Under Access to remedies:

  • Identifying legal and practical obstacles to accessing judicial remedies
  • Developing information dissemination and collection tools regarding non-judicial grievance mechanisms
  • Identifying prospects for improving and/or increasing the number of non-judicial mechanisms
  • Exploring the relationship between judicial and non-judicial remedies.

Readers interested in the work of the SRSG can follow developments here.

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