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Guidance to business

Businesses are integral to the business and human rights discourse, but more often than not they will not have human rights experts within their workforce. Providing guidance to business is a good way to educate shareholders, management, and staff on relevant business and human rights issues.

The UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs), details in Guiding Principle 3 that states should “

rovide effective guidance to business enterprises on how to respect human rights throughout their operations”. Commentary to Guiding Principle 3 clarifies that [page 5]:

“[G]uidance to business enterprises on respecting human rights should indicate expected outcomes and help share best practices. It should advise on appropriate methods, including human rights due diligence, and how to consider effectively issues of gender, vulnerability and/or marginalization, recognizing the specific challenges that may be faced by indigenous peoples, women, national or ethnic minorities, religious and linguistic minorities, children, persons with disabilities, and migrant workers and their families.”

Among the earliest guidance for businesses supported by states was the CSR COMPASS; developed with support from the Danish Government. The Dutch government has also supported the development of an online tool, which is designed to help companies exporting to, importing from, or have production facilities, in foreign countries, identify which corporate and social risks are related to their business activities, and what their options are for managing these risks. Further efforts include that of the U.S. administration assisting companies to eradicate forced and indentured child labour by developing a list of specific goods made in certain source countries, where production is likely to involve child labour and/or forced labour. Additionally, the Public-Private Alliance for Responsible Minerals Trade provides a platform for the State and USAID to work in partnership with U.S. companies and civil society to support conflict-free sourcing from the DRC and African Great Lakes region.

The Commentary to Guiding Principle 3 adds that [page 6] “National human rights institutions [NHRIs] that comply with the Paris Principles have an important role to play in helping States identify whether relevant laws are aligned with their human rights obligations and are being effectively enforced, and in providing guidance on human rights also to business enterprises and other non-State actors.”

Certain NHRIs, such as the Danish Institute for Human Rights, the UK Equality and Human Rights Commission, and the Australian Human Rights Commission provide support to companies interested in learning more about integrating human rights into their management practices and everyday operations.

Further resources available to businesses include the ILO Help Desk for International Labour Standards, ILO Better Work programme, and the Business and Human Rights Resource Centre.


What National Action Plans say on Guidance to business