Guiding Principle 15
In order to meet their responsibility to respect human rights, business enterprises should have in place policies and processes appropriate to their size and circumstances, including:
(a) A policy commitment to meet their responsibility to respect human rights;
(b) A human rights due diligence process to identify, prevent, mitigate and account for how they address their impacts on human rights;
(c) Processes to enable the remediation of any adverse human rights impacts they cause or to which they contribute.
Business enterprises need to know and show that they respect human rights. They cannot do so unless they have certain policies and processes in place. Principles 16 to 24 elaborate further on these
What National Action Plans say on Guiding Principle 15
STATUS IN BELGIUM:
Action point 33, , Importation, exportation et transit d’armes, de munitions, de matériel militaire et de maintien de l’ordre et de biens à double usage [Import, export and transit of arms, ammunition, military and law enforcement equipment and dual-use goods], specifically concerns the trade of arms. The Flemish government states that a human rights criterion is strengthened in the Flemish Arms Trade Decree, to avoid, as a general rule, goods being delivered either directly or through unreliable or private enterprises, to actors found to be guilty of violations of human rights. It explains that “all private companies that want to receive weapons or military equipment are also sensitized at this aspect. Just like state end-users, they are required, prior to any export, to sign a declaration in which they must undertake, inter alia, not to use them for violations of human rights or international humanitarian law, and not to deliver them to another entity, or to transfer or export them to another country that has the objective of such activities.”
Action point 1, Elaborer une boîte à outils destinée aux entreprises et organisations concernant les droits de l’Homme [Develop a toolkit for companies and organizations on human rights], presents the action of developing, in collaboration with experts and main human rights stakeholders and organizations, a toolbox that will help companies prevent human rights violations and promote the respect for human rights through their activities. This “Toolbox” will be composed of different elements including how companies can create grievance mechanisms; launch initiatives for data collection in order to prepare human rights commitments and policy statements; and apply proper human rights due diligence.
Action point 5, Assurer la diffusion de la boîte à outils et de la brochure sur les mécanismes de réparation parmi les représentants belges à l’étranger et sensibiliser ceux-ci à la question [Ensure the dissemination of the toolbox and brochure on grievance mechanisms among Belgian representatives abroad and raise awareness of the issue] links Action point 2 and 3 together. The action aims at raising awareness among the network of Belgian diplomacy on the issues of companies’ social responsibility, sustainable development and the problematic of human rights violations committed by companies operating abroad. They will receive a practical toolbox (Action point 3) to better inform companies who contact them with a wish to expand their activities abroad. The toolbox will also include elements on grievance mechanisms (based on Action 2), enabling the Belgian diplomatic network to better inform businesses, victims of possible violations and all other interested parties about the access to remedy in Belgium.
In the context of Action point 15, Intégrer le principe de « diligence raisonnable » au sein des organismes de gestion de l’entreprise, également en matière de droits de l’Homme [Incorporate the principle of “due diligence” into the management of the company, also in the terms of human rights] the NAP explains that “the OECD, and the EU, wants to make more non-financial information available. In this context, companies are encouraged to make public their policy on corporate ethics, social affairs, human rights, including, where applicable, in their supply chains, the human rights risks identified, their action plans to prevent any negative impacts and to remedy if necessary, and the measured impact of these action plans.” Alongside the federal government, the Wallonia, Flemish and Brussels governments are committed to encouraging the publication of non-financial reporting by large companies.
The action point also mentions corporate governance. Concretely, the action will consist of contacting those responsible for the two Belgian corporate governance codes in order to examine the possibility of integrating international developments, in particular with regard to human rights, which will entail the attempt to minimize the administrative burden on public authorities or enterprises, but without impairing the application and implementation of ambitious criteria and controls.
Action point 16, Promouvoir les rapports sociétaux, droits de l’Homme inclus [Promote social reporting, including human rights] is the main action point covering the issue of non-financial reporting. The NAP explains that given the adoption of the new EU directive 2014/95/EU, some major companies will be required to disclose non-financial information in their annual report relating to the environmental, social and human resource issues, respect for human rights and the fight against corruption and bribery. Companies that meet the conditions for making such a non-financial statement but that do not have a policy on one or more of the above-mentioned issues will be required to provide a clear and reasoned explanation of the reasons for this choice and to include it in this non-financial reporting.
The NAP also mentions that in the “Baromètre RSE 2011” (see Action point 18), it was discovered that the theme of human rights was the third most important challenge identified by companies, while only 28% had a code of conduct that addressed human rights, merely 25% had grievance mechanisms for collecting complaints about human rights violations, and barely 9% had a human rights audit system.
Action point 20, Promouvoir les entreprises publiques socialement responsables [Promote state enterprises that are socially responsible] also touches upon human rights due diligence. The action’s objective is to create a learning network for public enterprises, which strives to bring together knowledge, to pool expertise and exchange experiences in order to realize CSR commitments and ambitions. Particular attention will be paid to how public enterprises can integrate and promote respect for human rights within their organization through tools such as reporting and/or “due diligence”.
In the context of the Action point 22, Encourager la gestion responsable des chaînes d’approvisionnement avec une approche sectorielle [Encourage responsible supply chain management with a sector-wide approach], the NAP mentions human rights due diligence in reference to severel OECD guidelines such as:
- The “OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Supply Chains of Minerals from Conflict-Affected and High-Risk Areas”
- The “OECD-FAO Guidance for Responsible Agricultural Supply Chains”
- The “OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Supply Chains in the Garment and Footwear Sector ”
The Chilean NAP does not make an explicit reference to GP15.
The Colombian NAP does not contain a reference to GP15.
The Czech NAP does not contain a reference to GP15.
The Danish NAP does not contain a reference to GP15.
Finland’s NAP makes no reference to GP15.
II. Business Responsibility to Respect Human Rights
2. Training and Information for Business
Proposal for Action No.9 [page 43]
- Training efforts are being continued, especially in the fields of purchasing, employee representatives, etc.
- Measures may be examined with businesses to encourage adherence to rules on the products authorised for sale and consumption in countries that have ratified the UN Guiding Principles.
4. International Frameworks Agreements
Proposal for Action No. 11 [page 46]
- France encourages the generalisation and reinforcement of international framework agreements that include human rights criteria, measures to regularly monitor their implementation and ex-post evaluation mechanisms
5. Employee representative
Proposal for Action No. 12 [page 44]
- France ensures staff representative bodies have sufficient operating resources to defend human rights.
The German NAP does not contain a reference to GP15.
Section 3. Actions
II.Initial priorities for the Business and Human Rights Implementation Group
The Corporate Responsibility to Respect Human Rights [page 18]
Encourage business representative bodies to provide examples, templates and case studies to help support companies in their efforts to develop human rights focused policies and reporting initiatives.
Italy’s NAP contains no reference to GP 15.
The Lithuanian NAP does not contain a reference to GP15.
The Dutch NAP does not contain a reference to GP15.
3.2. Responsible Business Conduct
What should a company do? [page 32]
The 15th principle specifies ways in which companies can ensure responsible business conduct. Thus, companies must know and show that they respect human rights. This means having sound strategies and management systems. Principles 16–24 describe in more detail points (a), (b) and (c) of the 15th principle.
The Polish NAP does not contain a reference to GP15.
III. Areas of Actions and Measures
Pillar I. The State Duty to Protect Human Rights
Foundational Principles [pages 10-15]
Guiding Principle 2
The State expects from Spanish companies, in Spain and abroad, a behavior consistent with its responsibility to respect human rights, which implies that they must act with due diligence, depending on their size and circumstances, to avoid the violation of the rights of third parties and to deal with the adverse impacts of their activity. In this regard, in addition to recalling the obligation incumbent upon the State to protect human rights, which includes abuses that may result from business activity, also the need to preserve the reputation of the State and to promote the Brand Spain should be noted. Ultimately, the State expects Spanish companies to exert their responsibility to respect human rights in accordance with the foundational and operational principles of the Pillar II of the Guiding Principles.
- The Government will transfer the expectations described regarding human rights by companies to the business sector in a clear and consistent manner.
- The Government will develop awareness and training actions based on the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, the National Plan for Business and Human Rights, and the expectations of the State in matters of business and human rights. These actions can be organized, among others, with the National Contact Point of the OECD Guidelines for multinational companies, business associations, networks of the United Nations Global Compact, and civil society organizations. This action will be directed as a priority to those companies in which the State has participation, or to which it provides financial, diplomatic, or other support; to companies that may affect vulnerable groups; as well as to those companies that have received the endorsement of 14 Brand Spain. The awareness actions will be directed to the personnel of the companies at different decision-making levels, including the boards of directors and governing bodies.
- In particular, the Government will develop awareness-raising campaign on actions aimed to protect groups with greater risk of vulnerability. In this sense, and in collaboration with the Spanish and international organizations, the Government will disseminate the UNICEF document, Save the Children and the Global Compact “Children’s Rights and Business Principles” among the business sector and will specifically take into account General Comment No. 16 of 2013 of the Committee on the Rights of the Child.
- The self-regulation codes will also be promoted, taking as an example relevant sector experiences, such as the Global Code of Ethics for Tourism of the World Tourism Organization (WTO) or the Code of Conduct for the protection of children and adolescents against sexual exploitation in the Tourism and Travel Industry, as well as the relevant labor conventions of the ILO.
- Likewise, an awareness-raising strategy will be carried out on how to avoid discriminatory practices in public and private companies (by distinction, exclusion or preference) because of gender, age, ethnic origin, race, religion, disability, political affiliation or union, sexual orientation, nationality, marital status, socioeconomic origin or any other personal distinction.
- Companies and vulnerable sectors will be informed about ILO Convention 169 on Indigenous and Tribal Peoples (1989), and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (2007). This awareness-raising action will demonstrate the benefits that the respect for human rights can have for companies, as well as highlight examples of good practices.
- The Government will establish networks among Spanish companies or that the ones that operate in Spain for the promotion of: measures, procedures or internal systems that can effectively contribute to the prevention and/or mitigation of the negative consequences of business activities on human rights; as well as for the dissemination of good practices aimed to avoid these consequences, or to influence their avoidance, reduction or remedy. The establishment of procedures for internal assessment and determination of action will be promoted in a manner that avoids other negative consequences on human rights.
- The Monitoring Commission will design and submit to the Government the adoption of an incentive system that includes both large companies and Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) that carry out policies in the field of human rights. These incentives may be economic, commercial, visibility and image, or other nature, to encourage companies to have policies and reliably certify that they have implemented adequate procedures at a global level according to their size and circumstances, namely:
– A public commitment to assume its responsibility to respect human rights in accordance with the provisions of the Principle no. 16;
– A process of due diligence aligned with the sectorial guides regarding the OECD (due diligence guidance), and based on the dialogue with stakeholders that allows identification, prevention, mitigation, and accountability of how they address the impact of their own activities and those that are directly related to their business relationships in accordance with the provisions of Principles no. 17 to no. 21;
– Some processes that allow to remedy all the negative consequences on human rights that have caused or contributed to provoke according to what is established in Principles no. 22, no.29, no. 30, no. 31.3.
2. The corporate responsibility to respect
In keeping with the UN Guiding Principles, businesses’ human rights efforts are expected to include the following main points:
Policy [page 14]
- Compliance with all applicable legislation and respect for human rights wherever they operate
- Policy statement, approved at the highest level, on respect for internationally recognised human rights, including the ILO core conventions, in the company’s operations
- Establish a clear set of values as the basis for the company’s human rights work, which should permeate the company’s business culture and external relationships and be made publicly available
- Clearly demonstrate the participation, engagement and responsibility of the senior level in respect for human rights throughout the organisation in Sweden and abroad
- Identify and monitor the risks throughout the value chain (employees, business partners, suppliers, distribution and customer channels) and assess where responsibility for risks lies and how the company can have a positive impact
- Establish an integrated and ongoing process in the company to identify, prevent and manage human rights risks and opportunities, as appropriate to the size, nature and context of the operations, i.e. due diligence
- Conduct a structured, meaningful and regular dialogue with the company’s employees and trade unions, and with the company’s key stakeholders in the community
- Cooperate and consult with other relevant companies and organisations on common human rights challenges
- Operate strategically, set objectives and follow up the company’s own activities to ensure their effectiveness
- Be transparent, i.e. report on and communicate the risks and opportunities facing the company, as well as its impact on society, both favourable and adverse
- Introduce guidelines on internal whistleblowing
- Put in place processes to remediate adverse impacts.
The Swiss NAP does not contain a reference to GP15.
The UK 2013 NAP
The UK 2013 NAP does not contain a reference to GP15.
The UK 2016 updated NAP
The UK 2016 updated NAP does not contain a reference to GP15.
The US NAP does not contain a reference to GP15.