In 2011, the United Nations Human Rights Council unanimously approved the “UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights” prepared by Prof. John Ruggie1, considering it a global benchmark for “Business and Human Rights”.
The “Guiding Principles” were drawn up to implement the Human Rights framework2 founded on the following three pillars:
- the duty of countries to protect people against Human Rights abuses by third parties, including companies (States must adopt suitable measures to prevent, investigate, punish and compensate these abuses through effective policies, legislation, regulations and pronouncements);
- the responsibility of companies to respect Human Rights (companies must avoid causing or contributing to causing - through their activities - negative impacts on the Human Rights);
States and businesses must allow the fullest possible access to effective remedies for victims of Human Rights abuses (States must ensure - through judiciary, administrative, legislative or other appropriate means - that people have access to an effective remedy when these abuses occur on their territory. Businesses must remedy the negative impacts – or cooperate to this end – through legitimate processes when they recognize they have caused the negative impacts or have contributed to cause them).
In order to reinforce the responsibility and transparency of large companies, at the end of 2014 the Parliament and Council of the European Union published Directive 2014/95/EU in the Official Journal of the European Union; this Directive came into force on January 1st 2017 (after ratification by the Member States at the end of 2016), concerns the disclosure of non- financial information, including information relating to Human Rights.
1 In 2005 Kofi Annan appointed Prof. Ruggie as “Special Representative of the Secretary-General on the issue of human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises”.
2 Drawn up by Prof. John Ruggie and approved by the Human Rights Council in 2008.