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Sié Chéou-Kang CenterPrivate Security Monitor

John Ruggie, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Human Rights and Transnational Corporations and other business entreprises, addresses the Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland.

Global Efforts

The Special Representative and the Working Group on Business and Human Rights

In 2005, Professor John Ruggie (U.S.) was appointed to the post of Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General on Business and Human Rights, tasked with defining the roles and responsibilities of states, companies and other social actors in the business and human rights sphere. The Special Representative, whose mandate ended in 2011, reported to both the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) and UN General Assembly. 

In 2008, after extensive research and consultations with governments, business and civil society, Special Representative Ruggie presented to the HRC the non-binding "Protect, Respect and Remedy" Framework for Business and Human Rights. The Framework outlines the responsibilities of companies (including security companies and firms that hire them) to protect citizens against human rights abuses through the implementation of appropriate policies, regulations, and remedial measures. In June 2011, the compliance and oversight mechanism or "Guiding Principles" for the Framework was completed and endorsed by the HRC. 

In 2011 the HRC established a Working Group on the issue of human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises to carry on the work of the Special Representative. The Working Group has since created a Forum where good practices and lessons learned on the implementation of the Framework and Guiding Principles can be debated and discussed. 

The reports of the Special Representative and Working Group can be found below. The Special Representative reported to the UN Human Rights Council yearly between 2005 and 2011;  the Framework and corresponding Guiding Principles appear with his documents. The official reports of the Working Group are also set forth. 

Official Documents Submitted by the Special Representative

Report to the 14th Session of the Human Rights Council (A/HRC/14/27)

Author: UN Special Representative on Business and Human Rights
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This is a progress report submitted in follow-up to A/HRC/8/5. Section I illustrates the Special Representative's working methods in operationalizing and promoting the "Protect, Respect and Remedy" framework. The following three sections summarize his current thinking on the three pillars and the synergies among them, pointing towards the guiding principles that will constitute the mandate's final product.

Report to the 17th Session of the Human Rights Council (A/HRC/17/32)

Author: UN Special Representative on Business and Human Rights
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In this report titled "Business and human rights in conflict-affected regions: challenges and options towards State responses," the Special Representative sets out a range of policy options that home, host and neighboring states have or could develop to prevent and deter corporate-related human rights abuses in conflict contexts.

Report to the 62nd session of the Commission on Human Rights (E/CN.4/2006/97)

Author: UN Special Representative on Business and Human Rights
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This report was submitted in response to Commission resolution 2005/69, which asks the Special Representative to submit an interim report that frames the overall context encompassing the mandate of the Special Representative as he sees it, outlines the general strategic approach to be taken, and summarizes the current and planned program of activities.

Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights: Implementing the United Nations "Protect, Respect and Remedy" Framework, A/HRC/17/31

Author: UN Special Representative on Business and Human Rights
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The UN Guiding Principles were created by the UN Special Representative on Business and Human Rights in 2011 to "operationalize" the "Protect, Respect and Remedy" Framework. The report, published in March 2011, was adopted by the Council in June of the same year. The UN Guiding Principles provide an authoritative global standard for preventing and addressing the risk of adverse impacts on human rights linked to business activity. The Guiding Principles also further clarify the meaning of the corporate responsibility to respect human rights. There are three addenda to this report:

  1. Piloting principles for effective company/stakeholder grievance mechanisms: A report of lessons learned (A/HRC/17/31/Add.1)
  2. Corrigendum, Summary, paragraph 5 (c) and footnote (A/HRC/17/31/Add.1/Corr.1)
  3. Human rights and corporate law: trends and observations from a cross-national study conducted by the Special Representative (A/HRC/17/31/Add.2)
  4. Principles for responsible contracts: integrating the management of human rights risks into State-investor contract negotiations: guidance for negotiators (A/HRC/17/31/Add.3)

Report to the 4th Session of the Human Rights Council (A/HRC/4/35)

Author: UN Special Representative on Business and Human Rights
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This report, titled "Business and human rights: mapping international standards of responsibility and accountability for corporate acts," provides a comprehensive overview of current and evolving international standards and practices for corporate responsibility and accountability in the area of human rights. It is divided into five sections: (1) state duty to protect; (2) corporate responsibility for international crimes; (3) corporate responsibility for other human rights violations under international law; (4) soft law mechanisms; and (5) self-regulation. A companion report explains the key issues involved in conducting human rights impact assessments.There are also four addenda to this report that provide greater detail.

  1. State responsibilities to regulate and adjudicate corporate activities under the United nations core human rights treaties: an overview of treaty body commentaries (A/HRC/4/35/Add.1)
  2. Corporate responsibility under international law and issues in extraterritorial regulation: summary of legal workshops (A/HRC/4/35/Add.2)
  3. Human Rights Policies and Management Practices: Results from questionnaire surveys of Governments and Fortune Global 500 firms (A/HRC/4/35/Add.3)
  4. Business recognition of human rights: Global patterns, regional and sectoral variations (A/HRC/4/35/Add.4)

"Protect, Respect, and Remedy" Framework for Business and Human Rights (A/HRC/8/5)

Author: UN Special Representative on Business and Human Rights
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The Framework was created by the UN Special Representative on Business and Human Rights in April 2008. The Framework clarifies the responsibilities of relevant actors in the business and human rights sphere. It rests on three pillars: the state duty to protect against human rights abuses by third parties, including business, through appropriate policies, regulation and adjudication; the corporate responsibility to respect human rights; and greater access by victims to effective remedy both judicial and non-judicial. There are three addenda:

  1. Summary reports of five multi-stakeholder consultation (A/HRC/8/5/Add.1)
  2. Survey of Scope and Patterns of Alleged Corporate-Related Human Rights Abuse (A/HRC/8/5/Add.2)
  3. Companion report: Clarifying the concepts of "sphere of influence" and "complicity" (A/HRC/8/16)

Report to the 11th Session of the Human Rights Council (A/HRC/11/13)

Author: UN Special Representative on Business and Human Rights
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This report restates the key features of the "protect, respect and remedy" framework and outlines the strategic directions of the Special Representative's work to date in operationalizing the framework. There is one addendum to this report: State obligation to provide access to remedy for human rights abuses by third parties, including business: An overview of international and regional provisions, commentary and decisions (A/HRC/11/13/Add.1).

Official Reports of the Working Group

Outcome of the Second Session of the Working Group, (A/HRC/WG.12/2/1)

Author: UN WG on Human Rights and Transnational Corporations
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This report from the Working Group on the Issue of Human Rights and Transnational Corporations details the results of the second session of the Group. The session focused upon the promotion of the Guiding Principles framework. The Group met with the EU on the potential adoption of the Principles, and assisted other organizations with the ir implementation. The Group also held a high level forum to outline the topics and theme of an upcoming Forum on Business and Human Rights. 

Report from the First Session of the Working Group on Human Rights and Transnational Corporations (A/HRC/20/29)

Author: UN WG on Human Rights and Transnational Corporations
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Following its first session in January 2012, the Working Group issued this report outlining the framework for operation and strategic future of the Group. The report outlines the context of the Group's mandate, highlights positive examples of implementing the “Guiding Principles”, and discusses the recommendations made by stakeholders. From this, the report concludes with the Working Group's preliminary strategy for its future work and its approach to engaging the relevant stakeholders.

Summary of discussions of the Forum on Business and Human Rights, prepared by the Chairperson, Makarim Wibisono

Author: Forum on Business and Human Rights
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This document provides a summary of discussions during the second annual United Nations Forum on Business and Human Rights which took place from December 2nd to 4th, 2013.  Included are both side events, such as Training on the Guiding Principles, and official sessions, such as Global Implementation of the Guiding Principles and Defending Human Rights in the context of business operations in complex environments.

Report of the Working Group on the issue of human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises

Author: Working Group on Human Rights and Transnational Corporations
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This report summarizes the preliminary results of the 2012/2013 survey sent to member states to learn about their efforts to implement the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.  Replies from states were treated as anonymous, though the United State has made their reply public and this response appears below.