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Tuesday, November 27 • 8:30am - 9:45am
Building coherence on essential elements of human rights due diligence

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Organized by the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights in collaboration with the OECD

Short description of the session:
The UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights clarify that all business enterprises have an independent responsibility to respect human rights, and that in order to do so they are required to exercise human rights due diligence to identify, prevent, mitigate and account for how they address impacts on human rights. The introduction of this concept was one of the major contributions of the Guiding Principles.
The 2018 release of the OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Business Conduct provided another important step forward in helping clarify what human rights due diligence involves in practical steps. As it is in full alignment with the UN Guiding Principles, these two frameworks together provide a solid foundation promoting and scaling up responsible business conduct in a coherent and effective way. Also issued in 2018, a report by the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights on to the UN General Assembly further highlights key features of human rights due diligence and why it matters; gaps and challenges in current business and Government practice; emerging good practices; and how key stakeholders — States and the investment community, in particular — can contribute to the scaling-up of effective human rights due diligence.

Session objectives
This Forum session takes place against this background with a view to:
  • Highlight the essential elements of human rights due diligence set out in the UN Guiding Principles and the OECD Due Diligence Guidance.
  • Demonstrate the close alignment between these two frameworks.
  • Engage stakeholders in a discussion on the way forward for achieving wider and comprehensive uptake of human rights due diligence in standard business practice.
The discussion will also set the stage for the 27 November plenary session involving senior leaders from international organizations charged with the task of promoting corporate responsibility and responsible business, with business respect for human rights as a bedrock.
 
Background
The Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises clarify that all business enterprises have an independent responsibility to respect human rights, and that in order to do so they are required to exercise human rights due diligence to identify, prevent, mitigate and account for how they address impacts on human rights.
Human rights due diligence is a way for enterprises to proactively manage potential and actual adverse human rights impacts with which they are involved.
It involves multiple overlapping components, including (i) embedding responsible business conduct int policies and management systems; undertaking due diligence by (ii) Identifying and assessing actual or potential adverse human rights impacts that the enterprise may cause or contribute to through its own activities, or which may be directly linked to its operations, products or services by its business relationships; (iii) Integrating findings from impact assessments across relevant company processes and taking appropriate action according to its involvement in the impact; (iv) Tracking the effectiveness of measures and processes to address adverse human rights impacts in order to know if they are working; (v) Communicating on how impacts are being addressed and showing stakeholders – in particular affected stakeholders – that there are adequate policies and processes in place; and (vi) providing and supporting remediation as appropriate.
The prevention of adverse impacts on people is the main purpose of human rights due diligence. It concerns risks to people, not risks to business. It should be ongoing, as the risks to human rights may change over time; and be informed by meaningful stakeholder engagement, in particular with affected stakeholders, human rights defenders, trade unions and grassroots organizations. Risks to human rights defenders and other critical voices need to be considered.
Since 2011, corporate human rights due diligence has become a norm of expected conduct. It has been integrated in other policy frameworks for responsible business. The recent OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Business Conduct, adopted by 48 OECD and non-OECD countries at Ministerial level in May 2018, provides practical guidance on due diligence, including for managing human rights risks and impacts, alongside other concerns for responsible business conduct, such as anti-bribery, environment and employment and industrial relations. This Guidance was developed in close consultation with business, workers, and civil society, as well as the International Labour Organisation, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights. As such it seeks to promote a common global understanding among governments and stakeholders on due diligence for responsible business conduct.
The human rights due diligence standard is increasingly reflected in government policy frameworks and legislation, including mandatory disclosure of risks of modern slavery in supply chains, and sector specific due diligence obligations, for example on responsible mineral supply chains. In the 20 national action plans on business and human rights that have been issued to date, Governments have reaffirmed the expectation that business enterprises exercise human rights due diligence. A growing number of investors are starting to ask enterprises how they manage their risks to human rights. Also, among business lawyers there is a growing recognition that they should advise corporate clients to exercise human rights due diligence. In the world of sports, human rights due diligence processes have become an integral part of the selection process for mega sporting events. Among business enterprises, a small but growing number of large corporations in different sectors have issued policy statements expressing their commitment to respect human rights in line with the Guiding Principles and OECD Guidance. Several such enterprises are developing practices that involve ongoing learning and innovation around the various components of human rights due diligence.
However, while a small group of early adopters are showing the way and good practices are building up, considerable efforts are still needed, as the majority of enterprises around the world remain either unaware of their responsibility, or unable or unwilling to implement human rights due diligence as required of them in order to meet their responsibility to respect human rights. The fundamental challenge going forward is to scale up the good practices that are emerging and address remaining gaps and challenges. That will require concerted efforts by all actors. Evidence of what constitute some of the strongest drivers for changing business practice suggests that governments and investors have a key role to play. For Governments in particular, addressing and closing market and governance failures is an inherent part of their duties.

Interpretation is provided in Korean

Moderator/ Introductory Remark...
avatar for Lene Wendland

Lene Wendland

Chief. Human rights and Economic and Social Issues Section, Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights
I have directed OHCHR's thematic work on Business and Human Rights since 2005. As a core member of SRSG John Ruggie's team for the duration of his mandate, I contributed to the development and drafting of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. I oversee the OHCHR... Read More →

Speakers
avatar for Tyler Gillard

Tyler Gillard

Head of Sector Projects and Legal Adviser in the Responsible Business Conduct Unit of the OECD’s Investment Division, OECD
Tyler Gillard is the Head of Sector Projects and Senior Legal Adviser in the Responsible Business Conduct Unit of the OECD’s Investment Division. He leads the OECD’s work on due diligence in the financial, textiles, mining & metals, oil & gas and agriculture sectors. Tyler joined... Read More →
avatar for Dante Pesce

Dante Pesce

Chairperson, UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights
Mr. Dante Pesce holds a Masters in Political Science from the Catholic University of Chile and a Masters in Public Administration from Harvard University. He is the Founder and Executive Director of the VINCULAR Center for Social Responsibility and Sustainable Development at the... Read More →
avatar for Viviane Schiavi

Viviane Schiavi

Senior Policy Executive – Corporate Responsibility and Anti-corruption, International Chamber of Commerce
Viviane Schiavi is Senior Executive for Corporate Responsibility and Anti-corruption with the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), overseeing ICC’s work to promote anti-corruption, responsible business conduct and corporate responsibility worldwide. These objectives are pursued... Read More →
avatar for Joseph Wilde-Ramsing

Joseph Wilde-Ramsing

Coordinator, OECD Watch



Tuesday November 27, 2018 8:30am - 9:45am
Room XX