The upcoming Second Annual United Nations Forum on Business and Human Rights, of the Working Group on the issue of human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises, will be held in Geneva 2-4 December 2013.
"[T]he Forum aims to serve as a key annual venue for stakeholders from all regions to engage in dialogue on business and human rights, and to strengthen engagement towards the goal of effective and comprehensive implementation of the Guiding Principles. By bringing together relevant stakeholders, the Forum aids in identifying trends, challenges and good practices in the implementation of the Guiding Principles by States and business enterprises, as well as by other stakeholders, including challenges faced in particular sectors, operational environments or in relation to specific rights or groups." (Concept Note Prepared by the Working Group on the issue of human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises (A/HRC/FBHR/2013/3 (24 Sept. 2013) ) at p. 2)
The draft program may be accessed HERE.
Additional documents prepared for the Forum may be accessed here:
- Provisional agenda and annotations
E F S R A C
- Background note by the Secretariat
E F S R A C
- Concept note prepared by the Working Group on the issue of human
rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises
E F S R A C
1. The global business and human rights agenda reached a key milestone in 2011, when the Human Rights Council unanimously endorsed the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights: Implementing the United Nations “Protect, Respect and Remedy” Framework. The Council recognized the role of the Guiding Principles in providing guidance that will contribute to enhancing standards and practices with regard to business and human rights, and thereby contribute to a socially sustainable globalization.
2. The endorsement by the Council effectively established the Guiding Principles as the authoritative global standard for preventing and addressing adverse impacts on human rights arising from business-related activity. The standards in the Guiding Principles have already been incorporated into a number of other leading international standards, initiatives and guidance, contributing to the “convergence” of international standards and processes.
3. The Guiding Principles were presented by the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on the issue of human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises after a six-year process of extensive multi-stakeholder consultations and research. They provide the normative and operational standard for the implementation of the United Nations “Protect, Respect and Remedy” Framework for business and human rights structured around three pillars:• The State duty to protect against human rights abuses by third parties, including business enterprises, through policies, regulation and adjudication.
• The corporate responsibility to respect human rights, which means that business enterprises should act with due diligence to avoid infringing on the rights of others and to address the adverse impacts with which they are involved.
• The need for greater access to remedy, through both judicial and non-judicial grievance processes, for victims of business-related abuse.
4. The Guiding Principles clarify and elaborate on the provisions of the existing international human rights treaty framework as it relates to the issue of business and human rights, and provide guidance on how to operationalize it.
5. Having endorsed the Guiding Principles, the Human Rights Council decided to establish the Working Group on the issue of human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises to promote their effective and comprehensive dissemination and implementation. The Working Group is mandated to identify, exchange and promote good practices and lessons learned on the implementation of the Guiding Principles; to continue to explore options for enhancing effective remedies available to those whose human rights are affected by corporate activities, including those in conflict areas; and to integrate a gender perspective throughout the work of the mandate and to give special attention to persons living in vulnerable situations, in particular children.
6. The Human Rights Council furthermore decided to establish a Forum on Business and Human Rights under the guidance of the Working Group.
 Human Rights Council resolution 17/4, annex.
 See, for example, the report of the Working Group on the issue of human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises (A/67/285).
 See A/HRC/8/5. See also A/HRC/11/13 and A/HRC/14/27.
 Human Rights Council resolution 17/4, para. 6.
 Ibid., para. 12
The Background Note by the Secretariat ( A/HRC/FBHR/2013/2 (24 Sept. 2013)) presents background information and frequently asked questions on the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights which implements the United Nations “Protect, Respect and Remedy” Framework (Human Rights Council resolution 17/4) and on their dissemination and implementation. An annex to contains a non-exhaustive list of standards, tools and guidance on business and human rights to assist participants in preparing for the Forum:
Human Rights Council and related mechanisms(a) Read Human Rights Council resolution 17/4 endorsing the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights: Implementing the United Nations “Protect, Respect and Remedy” Framework, and creating the Working Group on the issue of human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises and the annual Forum on Business and Human Rights. Available from:
(b) Examine the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights: Implementing the United Nations “Protect, Respect and Remedy” Framework, available in the six official languages of the United Nations. Available from:
(c) See additional reports providing background to the development of the Guiding Principles by the Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General on the issue of human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises, and Working Group reports on the uptake of the Principles. Available from:www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Business/Pages/Reports.aspx
(d) Read about the mandate, activities and work of the Working Group on the issue of human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises, consisting of five independent experts. Available from:
(e) Watch the webcasts of sessions and read the official documents from the 2012 Forum. Available from:
Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights(f) See the link of the Office of the High Commissioner (OHCHR) to tools on business and human rights, including the publication containing the text of the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and The Corporate Responsibility to Respect Human Rights: An Interpretive Guide, available in the six official languages of the United Nations. Available from:
(g) Explore the OHCHR Handbook for Civil Society and read how to engage with the Office and the United Nations human rights bodies, including the mechanisms of the Human Rights Council. Available from:
(h) Familiarize themselves with the core international human rights treaties. Available from:www.ohchr.org/EN/ProfessionalInterest/Pages/InternationalLaw.aspx
Other United Nations mechanisms and initiatives relevant to business and human rights(i) Explore the normative and legal international labour standards of the International Labour Organization and view the agenda of the International Labour Conference and opportunities for engagement. Available from:
(j) Familiarize themselves with the United Nations Global Compact, the platform of the United Nations for engaging the business sector, and how to participate. Available from:www.unglobalcompact.org
(k) Consult the Global Compact tools and resources page for information on the areas covered in the 10 principles (human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption) and on: business and peace; business for development; financial markets; United Nations-business partnerships; supply chain sustainability; corporate governance; higher education institutions and principles for responsible management; education; agriculture and food; and resources released at the Rio+20 Corporate Sustainability Forum. Available from:www.unglobalcompact.org/AboutTheGC/tools_resources/index.html
(l) Read and contribute to the Global Compact’s draft business reference guide on indigenous peoples’ rights and call for case studies. Available from:www.unglobalcompact.org/Issues/human_rights/indigenous_peoples_rights.html
(m) Consult the Children’s Rights and Business Principles produced by the Global Compact, together with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and Save the Children. Available from:www.unglobalcompact.org/Issues/human_rights/childrens_principles.html
(n) Review the work on human rights of the United Nations Environment Programme’s Finance Initiative. Available from:
(o) Consult the Food and Agriculture Organization’s Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests in the Context of National Food Security, as endorsed by the Committee on World Food Security. Available from:www.fao.org/nr/tenure/voluntary-guidelines/en/
(p) Review the revised Sustainability Framework (2012) of the International Finance Corporation. Available from:www.ifc.org/wps/wcm/connect/Topics_Ext_Content/IFC_External_Corporate_site/IFC+Sustainability/Sustainability+Framework
National human rights institutions
(q) Review the complete list of accredited national human rights institutions (NHRIs) around the world for those existing in countries where they work, or where a business enterprise is domiciled, and review their jurisdiction and cases examined. Available from:
(r) View the webpage of the International Coordinating Committee of National Institutions for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights for activities related to the promotion of business and rights of its Working Group on Business and Human Rights (ICCWG). Available from:
(s) See the 2010 Edinburgh Declaration devoted to the role of NHRIs in addressing business and human rights. Available from:www.ohchr.org/Documents/AboutUs/NHRI/Edinburgh_Declaration_en.pdf
Other inter-governmental mechanisms, tools and guidance(t) Familiarize themselves with the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises (revised 2011). Available from:
(u) Review the modalities of the OECD mechanism of national contact points, which are national agencies established to promote and implement the Guidelines. See the list of national contact points for those existing in countries where participants work, or where a business enterprise is domiciled. Browse the list of statements regarding specific instances taken up by the OECD national contact points. Available from:www.oecd.org/daf/inv/mne/ncps.htm
(v) Examine the European Commission’s “My Business and Human Rights: A Guide to Human Rights for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises”. Available from:http://ec.europa.eu/enterprise/policies/sustainable-business/files/csr-sme/human-rights-sme-guide-final_en.pdf
(w) See the European Policy on Corporate Social Responsibility (2011). Available from:http://ec.europa.eu/enterprise/policies/sustainable-business/corporate-social-responsibility/index_en.htm(x) Consult the European Commission sector guides on business and human rights on: employment and recruitment agencies; information and communication technology; and oil and gas. Available from: http://ec.europa.eu/enterprise/policies/sustainable-business/corporate-social-responsibility/human-rights/index_en.htmEU Sector guides