On June 16 2011, the Human Rights Council of the United Nations endorsed the 'Guiding Principles for Business and Human Rights'. These Guiding Principles were drawn up in the course of a research project by the UN Secretary General's Special Representative on Business and Human Rights, professor John Ruggie (Harvard University).
The research project was initiated in 2005 and involved a broad range of studies, public consultations and discussions with representatives from governments, businesses and public interest groups from all over the world.
In 2008, this research project reached its first milestone with the publication of the 'Protect, Respect, and Remedy' framework which set out a general policy perspective on how governments and businesses could approach human rights issues relating to business. The Protect, Respect, and Remedy framework evolved around the following three pillars:
- States have a duty to protect against human rights abuses, including those by businesses;
- Companies have a responsibility to respect human rights; and
- There is a greater need for access to effective remedy in cases of corporate-related human rights abuses.
The Guiding Principles build on the 'Protect, Respect and Remedy' policy framework, which was published by professor Ruggie in 2008, and seek to offer standards for governments and businesses on how to implement and operationalize this framework. The endorsement of the UN Human Rights Council marks another important step in the development of a global standard for addressing human rights issues within businesses. It is expected that the provisions contained in the Guiding Principles will have a profound impact on the way companies and governments worldwide will approach human rights issues.
NautaDutilh is proud to have contributed to the global research project that led to the Guiding Principles, under the direction of professor Ruggie. As part of the cross-border survey 'Corporate Law Tools Project', NautaDutilh provided country reports for the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg detailing the current embedment of human rights in company law in each of these jurisdictions. The results of this comparative analysis enabled professor Ruggie to assess the general state of affairs to the adequacy of current company law standards and practices with regard to human rights, which in turn provided an informed basis for issuing his recommendations on this topic in the Guiding Principles.
More information regarding Professor Ruggie's Framework and Guiding Principles can be found viawww.business-humanrights.org.