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Operationalizing a Business and Human Rights Framework

By John Ruggie | United Nations Human Rights Council | April 23, 2010

Report of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on the issue of human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises.

Business and Human Rights: Further steps toward the operationalization of the "protect, respect and remedy" framework.


1. In its resolution 8/7, adopted on 18 June 2008, the Human Rights Council was unanimous in welcoming the "protect, respect and remedy" policy framework (now widely referred to as "the United Nations framework") that the Special Representative proposed for better managing business and human rights challenges. It rests on three pillars: the State duty to protect against human rights abuses by third parties, including business, through appropriate policies, regulation, and adjudication; the corporate responsibility to respect human rights, which means to act with due diligence to avoid infringing on the rights of others; and greater access by victims to effective remedy, judicial and non-judicial.

2. From the outset, the Special Representative has maintained that the widening gaps between the scope and impact of economic forces and actors, and the capacity of societies to manage their adverse consequences, were unsustainable. These governance gaps, he has observed, "provide the permissive environment for wrongful acts by companies of all kinds without adequate sanctioning or reparation." The framework is intended to help close those gaps. Its three pillars are distinct yet complementary. The State duty to protect and the corporate responsibility to respect exist independently of one another, and preventative measures differ from remedial ones. Yet, all are intended to be mutually reinforcing parts of a dynamic, interactive system to advance the enjoyment of human rights.

3. The Council extended the Special Representative's mandate until 2011, with two main tasks: "operationalizing" the framework, i.e., providing concrete guidance and recommendations to States, businesses and other actors on the practical meaning and implications of the three pillars and their interrelationships; and "promoting" the framework, coordinating with relevant international and regional organizations and other stakeholders.

External Link: Operationalizing a Business and Human Rights Framework [PDF]

Read More: Business, Governance, Human Rights, Trade, Global

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