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Tuesday, November 27 • 4:40pm - 6:00pm
Accountability and remedy: exploring the interconnectedness of different types of grievance mechanisms

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Interpretation is provided into Spanish.

Organized by OHCHR

Brief description of the session:
The goals of improved accountability and access to remedy for business-related human rights abuses are often best served by providing affected individuals and communities with a range of options for seeking redress. These options could involve judicial or non-judicial mechanisms, or, in some cases, a combination of them. In 2014, OHCHR launched the Accountability and Remedy Project (ARP), a multiyear initiative of three phases focusing on enhancing the effectiveness of, respectively, judicial mechanisms, State-based non-judicial grievance mechanisms, and non-State-based grievance mechanisms. The overall aim of this project is to identify practical measures that can be taken to improve corporate accountability and access to remedy for victims of business-related human rights abuses. In its 2017 report to the General Assembly,  the Working Group on Business and Human Rights has also stressed the importance of an ‘all roads to remedy’ approach to realizing effective remedy for rights-holders.

This session will explore the interconnectedness of different types of grievance mechanisms, drawing from the three phases of ARP and the Working Group’s 2017 report. It will discuss how States can develop a legal and regulatory environment that enables the various types of grievance mechanisms to make a positive collective contribution to accountability and remedy, with a particular focus on the interfaces between non-State-based grievance mechanisms (such as operational-level grievance mechanisms) and State-based mechanisms.

Session objectives:
  • Explore the interconnectedness between the different types of grievance mechanisms: i.e. State-based judicial mechanisms, State-based non-judicial grievance mechanisms, and non-State-based grievance mechanisms.

Key discussion questions:
  • What measures can States take to improve policy coherence in relation to their different grievance mechanisms to ensure that victims have realistic and identifiable pathways to effective remedy?
  • What bearing does improved interconnectedness and policy coherence have on the prevention of harm through human rights due diligence by companies and “continuous learning?”
  • How should non-State-based grievance mechanisms (including operational-level grievance mechanisms) be situated within the overall “family” of grievance mechanisms?
  • In what circumstances is State regulatory oversight of the establishment, design and/or performance of non-State-based grievance mechanisms desirable and/or justified?
  • What kinds of communication and liaison between different types of remedial systems are needed for a well-functioning “regulatory ecosystem"?

Background to the discussion:
The right to an effective remedy is a core tenet of the international human rights system, and the need for victims to have access to an effective remedy is also recognized in the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.

However, extensive research has shown that in cases where business enterprises are involved in human rights abuses, victims often struggle to access remedy. The challenges that victims face are both practical and legal in nature. To begin to address these challenges, OHCHR launched the Accountability and Remedy Project in 2014 with a view to contributing to a fairer and more effective system of remedies in cases of business involvement in human rights abuses.

There are currently three phases of the Project:

The third and current phase of ARP is focused on enhancing the effectiveness of non-State-based grievance mechanisms. Findings from ARP I and II have highlighted the interlinkages between the different institutions and initiatives that make up the “family” of grievance mechanisms. For instance, judicial mechanisms may be available to enforce contracts entered into following a private mediation process. In the fields of labour and consumer protection regulation, prior reference to a company-based grievance mechanism may be a condition of access to a State-based non-judicial mechanism. Additionally, State-based bodies may, and in many cases do, provide advice and support to companies in the establishment of company-based grievance mechanisms.

The “regulatory ecosystem” in which non-State-based grievance mechanisms are situated may profoundly impact their effectiveness. However, this issue has so far been little discussed. As part of its programme of work, ARP III will aim to uncover the key components of well-functioning “regulatory ecosystems” for non-State-based grievance mechanisms with a view to identifying good practices and lessons that may be replicated in multiple contexts.

Moderator/ Introductory Remark...
avatar for Lene Wendland

Lene Wendland

Chief, Business and Human Rights, OHCHR
Lene Wendland is Chief of the Business and Human Rights Unit in UN Human Rights. She was part of the team of former Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General on Business and Human Rights, Professor John Ruggie, and contributed to the development and drafting of the UN Guiding... Read More →

avatar for Leila Al-Hayouti

Leila Al-Hayouti

Co-Founder, Rights CoLab
I cofounded Rights CoLab two years ago to innovate human rights strategies in a time of closing civic space that bridge the fields of business, finance, technology, and civil society. I lead projects on integrating human rights into capital markets and on human rights-compatible models... Read More →

Aishah Bidin

Commissioner, Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (SUHAKAM)
Human Rights Commissioner and Law Professor at the National University of Malaysia. Corporate Law , human rights and energy law
avatar for Surya Deva

Surya Deva

Vice-Chair, UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights
avatar for Kindra Mohr

Kindra Mohr

Policy Director, Accountability Counsel
Kindra Mohr, Esq. oversees the Policy Advocacy program at Accountability Counsel, an organization that works with communities around the world to defend their environmental and human rights through advocacy and direct case support. Using a community-driven approach, she focuses on... Read More →
avatar for Jennifer Zerk

Jennifer Zerk

Legal Consultant, OHCHR Accountability and Remedy Project

Tuesday November 27, 2018 4:40pm - 6:00pm CET