A Global Coalition of Civil Society Organizations Launched a Report on Human Rights Due Diligence and the Role of States today in Geneva. The report was Commissioned from International Experts on the Role of States in Ensuring Business Entities Conduct Human Rights Due Diligence
The International Corporate Accountability Roundtable (ICAR) along with the European Coalition for Corporate Justice (ECCJ) and the Canadian Network on Corporate Accountability (CNCA) launched today a report commissioned by International Experts on Business and Human Rights, entitled “Human Rights Due Diligence: the Role of States.” The International Experts commissioned included Professor Olivier De Schutter, Professor Anita Ramasastry, Mark B. Taylor and Robert C. Thompson.
The Report builds off of a set of global Consultations with legal practitioners, academics and experts from around the world and examines how States are using their regulatory authority to mandate due diligence for human rights or areas akin to human rights, such as environmental protection and workplace health and safety. The Report seeks to establish the extent to which the legal systems of States already make use of due diligence to ensure that businesses respect established standards and to describe for policymakers a range of regulatory options they might use to take the next steps in ensuring businesses respect human rights.
Drawing on State practice and international standards, the Report finds the following:
• The origins of due diligence are neither a creation of the United Nations Human Rights Council nor a voluntary measure for corporate social responsibility. Due diligence has its origins from legal tools that States in every region are already using to ensure that business behavior meets social expectations, including standards set in law;
• The due diligence procedures found in a variety of legal systems are consistent with processes described in the United Nations Guiding Principles and other international instruments;
• The concept of due diligence is found in areas of law that are either analogous to or directly relevant for human rights, such as labor rights, environmental protection, consumer protection and anti-corruption;
• Due diligence requirements can be used to ensure that business enterprises can be held accountable for violations of law, including through overcoming obstacles to effective regulation posed by complex corporate structures or transnational activities;
• There are, at least, four main regulatory approaches through which States can ensure human rights due diligence activities by business. Usually these approaches co-exist within the same jurisdictions and legal systems. These include:
o Requiring due diligence as a matter of regulatory compliance;
o Providing incentives and benefits to companies in return for their being able to demonstrate due diligence practice;
o Encouraging due diligence through transparency and disclosure mechanisms;
o Combining one or more of the above approaches.
• States could make far greater use of legal tools to ensure business respects human rights in general and implements due diligence for human rights in particular.
“This Report is based on vast consultation with a global set of respondents, and provides strong evidence for the need for legal requirements on business entities to conduct human rights due diligence. We urge Governments to carefully consider the findings and work to ensure that the fulfillment of their duty to protect human rights includes placing requirements over business actors to conduct due diligence related to human rights,” said Amol Mehra, Coordinator of the International Corporate Accountability Roundtable.
“The fact that our coalitions have come together around this Report evidences the critical nature of the issue of human rights due diligence, and its potential value in ensuring that business respect human rights,” added Filip Gregor, Board Member of the European Coalition for Corporate Justice.
The launch of the Report will take place in conjunction with the Annual Forum on Business and Human Rights in Geneva, scheduled for December 4-5, 2012. ICAR, ECCJ AND CNCA will host a discussion with the Authors alongside a Keynote Address by Member of the European Parliament Richard Howitt from 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm on December 3rd, 2012 in the Palais des Nations, Geneva, Switzerland.
The International Corporate Accountability Roundtable (ICAR) is coalition of leading human rights, environmental, development and labor groups. ICAR works to build frameworks of corporate accountability, strengthen current measures and defend existing laws, policies and legal precedents.
The European Coalition for Corporate Justice (ECCJ) promotes corporate accountability by bringing together national platforms of civil society organizations (CSOs) including NGOs, trade unions, consumer advocacy groups and academic institutions from all over Europe. ECCJ represents over 250 CSOs present in fifteen European countries such as FIDH and national chapters of Oxfam, Greenpeace, Amnesty International and Friends of the Earth.
The Canadian Network on Corporate Accountability (CNCA) unites environmental and human rights NGOs, faith groups, labor unions, and research and solidarity groups across Canada, including the Halifax Initiative. CNCA members seek the adoption of federal legislation that establishes mandatory corporate accountability standards for Canadian extractive companies that operate abroad. CNCA maintains that the provision of government support to Canadian corporations should be conditional on compliance with these standards. The network aims to enhance the effectiveness of its members’ activities through information sharing, policy analysis and research, and to coordinate joint advocacy for legal and policy reform. The CNCA also seeks to promote public awareness of these issues.
Contact: Amol Mehra, International Corporate Accountability Roundtable email@example.com
Imgage: Jared Rodriguez / Truthout