Business and Human Rights: An Oxfam perspective on the UN Guiding Principles | Human Rights

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This briefing outlines the responsibility of businesses to respect human rights under the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs), also known as the Ruggie Framework. It provides an overview of the UNGPs and gives an Oxfam perspective, including case studies, on key issues for businesses.
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  OXFAM TECHNICAL BRIEFING JUNE 2013 www.oxfam.org  BUSINESS AND HUMAN RIGHTS  An Oxfam perspective on the UN Guiding Principles Tea pickers in Mulanje, southern Malawi. This is a form of casual labour known as ganyu . Many of the workers are elderly women who earn less because they work more slowly. Photo: Abbie Trayler-Smith/Oxfam. This briefing outlines the responsibility of businesses to respect human rights under the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs), also known as the Ruggie Framework. It provides an overview of the UNGPs and gives an Oxfam perspective, including case studies, on key issues for businesses.  2 BACKGROUND: THE PROTECT, RESPECT AND REMEDY FRAMEWORK The UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs), sometimes referred to as „the Ruggie Framework‟ , were commissioned by the UN and developed by John Ruggie, Professor in Human Rights and International Affairs at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. In 2005 Professor Ruggie was appointed by then UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan as the UN Special Representative for human rights in relation to transnational corporations and other business enterprises. He was tasked with clarifying the roles and responsibilities of states, companies, and other social actors in this contentious sphere of business activity. 1  The UNGPs are based on the Protect, Respect and Remedy Framework, which was unanimously welcomed by the UN Human Rights Council in 2008. It rests on three pillars which are mutually reinforcing and which cover preventative and remedial measures. ‘I am pleased to acknowledge that Oxfam played a very constructive role during the development of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, and that they are continuing to do so now that the challenge has turned to implementation.’     –  Professor John Ruggie, May 2013   Protect Respect Remedy Protect against human rights abuses by actors including businesses Respect human rights throughout the value chain Greater access to remedies in the case of human rights abuses State Victim Business Pillar  Actors Need  Action Policies Legislation Regulation  Adjudication  Acting with due diligence  Addressing adverse impacts Judicial remedies Non-judicial remedies Based on the Report to the Human Rights Council by John Ruggie, 2011   3 UNGP S : IMPLEMENTING THE FRAMEWORK In March 2011, Professor Ruggie submitted the „Guiding Principles‟ for implementing the Protect, Respect and Remedy Framework, which were unanimously endorsed by the UN Human Rights Council in June 2011. Soon afterwards, a range of international frameworks were updated to bring them into alignment with the UNGPs, including the OECD Guidelines on Multinational Enterprises, the Global Reporting Initiative framework, and ISO 26000. 2  The UNGPs are based on the International Bill of Human Rights and the International Labour Organization (ILO) ‟s Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work. They apply to all states and businesses regardless of size, sector, location, ownership, or structure and regardless of states‟ ability and/or willingness to fulfil their own human rights obligations. The Guiding Principles for businesses are as follows: Is approved   at the most senior level Is informed by expertise Stipulates the expectations of the business for its personnel, partners, and other operational stakeholders with regards to human rights Is publicly available and communicated to all stakeholders Is embedded in operational policies and procedures  Assess actual and potential human rights impacts Draw on feedback from affected stakeholders and other sources without compromising commercial confidentiality Integrate and act upon findings Track and communicate performance frequently and accessibly Provide a platform for those affected to raise concerns Include grievance mechanisms, which should be -  Legitimate and transparent   -  Equitable and accessible -  Rights-compatible -  Predictable  Avoid infringing on human rights through business activities Mitigate adverse human rights im-pacts linked to business operations including business partnerships and the value chain 1. Policy commitment to respect human rights that:    F  o  u  n   d  a   t   i  o  n  a   l   P  r   i  n  c   i  p   l  e  s   O  p  e  r  a   t   i  o  n  a   l   P  r   i  n  c   i  p   l  e  s 2. Due-diligence processes to identify, prevent, mitigate, and account for human rights impacts that: 3. Remediation processes for adverse human rights imacts that: Based on the Report to the Human Rights Council by John Ruggie, 2011  4 OXFAM ‟S  PERSPECTIVE AND CASE STUDIES The UNGPs have set the stage for meaningful development in business and human rights policies by clearly defining, for the first time, the roles and responsibilities of the state and businesses, and means of redress open to people who are victims of human rights violations. In doing so, they have placed rights firmly back onto the corporate social responsibility (CSR) agenda. Below is Oxfam‟s perspective on effective implementation of the guidelines. Understanding business impacts on people vulnerable to human rights abuses The UNGPs should be implemented with a special focus on the rights and needs of groups who are particularly vulnerable to human rights abuses linked to business practices. An essential starting point is for companies to map where vulnerable groups exist in the supply chain in order to understand how the business is impacting these people. The results of vulnerability mapping can then be used to establish the salient impacts on which the company needs to take action.   3   Case study: Land grabs and vulnerable groups Mapping vulnerable groups in the value chain is necessary to prevent adverse human rights impacts, including those created by land grabs. Land grabs are a violation of human rights and can involve people being forced from their land, leaving them without a home or means of employment. Certain groups are particularly vulnerable. The World Bank has reported cases of indigenous people being forced from their land by palm oil companies in Indonesia and Papua New Guinea, as a result of poor interaction with local communities which was not conducted „ in a culturally appropriate manner, form, and language ‟  and did not comply with the Bank‟s standards for indigenous people s. Women also face higher risks of eviction as they are less likely to have formal land titles or the opportunity to participate in negotiations. In one case, the Bank suspended lending to the palm oil sector to implement new preventative strategies. The UN Committee on World Food Security has endorsed the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, representing the first legal instrument on land issues. These guidelines are the outcome of a long multi-stakeholder process that involved governments, major international organisations, civil society, and the private sector. They are based on human rights and include several principles and provisions applicable to the private sector, in line with the UNGP approach. They can and should be implemented by all stakeholders, including the private sector. Sources: Geary, K. (2012) ‘  Our Land, Our Lives: Time out on the global land rush ‟ ; World Bank (2009) „ Papua New Guinea: Smallholder Agriculture Development, http://www.worldbank.org/projects/P079140/png-smallholder-agriculture-development?lang=en; FAO (2012) Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests in the Context of National Food Security, http://www.fao.org/docrep/016/i2801e/i2801e.pdf
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