ICJ calls for concrete, effective and verifiable progress in businesses’ respect for human rights in the next decade (UN Statement)

The ICJ today addressed the UN Human Rights Council during the Panel discussion on the tenth anniversary of the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.

The ICJ was not able to read the statement during the Panel discussion due to the limited time provided for NGO statements.

The statement reads as follows:

“Madam President,

The Human Rights Council’s 2011 adoption of the UNGP constituted an important landmark in its work on business and human rights. The fact that the UNGP established that business enterprises of all kinds should respect human rights and, for that purpose, must adopt internal policies and measures to prevent, mitigate and remedy their human rights abuses, is to be celebrated and preserved.

But States’ and business enterprises’ actual implementation of the UNGP has lagged far behind intentions, plans and declarations. The few empirical studies on businesses’ implementation of their UNGP responsibilities conclude that it is minimal. That is a cause of concern, not of celebration. To meet the challenges of the post COVID global reconstruction and combat climate change, businesses and States need to do much more, especially now.

To improve the UNGP’s effective implementation rate, the next decade should focus on promoting national laws mandating compliance, on the basis of strong participation, transparency and enforcement. Current national processes towards mandatory human rights due diligence offer an opportunity. But a stronger emphasis on improving access to effective remedies and reparation, including on environmental matters, must accompany them.

An international, legally binding instrument on business and human rights can galvanize and encourage national action on various fronts, and should be a clear objective for the next period. The Human Rights Council should support this instrument, already under negotiation, as the next level of its engagement on business and human rights, building on the UNGP and other recent developments in this field.

I thank you.”

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