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There is a growing recognition that business has a duty to respect human rights to the extent that they are connected to their operations, their supply chain and the communities in which they operate. In addition, there is growing acceptance that effective risk management requires an understanding of a business’ human rights impacts, including the management of associated legal risks. Increasingly this means that business lawyers need to take human rights into account in their advice and services.
The International Bill of Human Rights, coupled with the eight International Labour Organization (ILO) core conventions as set out in the Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work are the benchmarks against which the human rights impacts of business enterprises have traditionally been assessed. The responsibility of business enterprises to respect human rights is distinct from issues of legal liability and enforcement, which remain defined largely by national law provisions in relevant jurisdictions.
The UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs) were endorsed in 2011 by a majority in the UN Human Rights Council. The framework is based on the three pillars ‘Protect, Respect and Remedy’ and establishes the responsibility of business enterprises to respect human rights. The UNGPs state that business enterprises have a responsibility to respect all internationally recognised human rights. This means that
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