This is the second part in a blog series on Human Rights and the Private Sector.
One of the main guidelines coming out of John Ruggie’s framework is the request for companies to map out those human rights which may be most affected by their particular operations. Internationally recognized human rights are mainly outlined in the following international conventions:Universal Declaration of Human Rights, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and ILO core conventions.
In John Ruggie’s framework, states and businesses have independent but complementary responsibilities to address human rights, and businesses are held to international legal frameworks to comply. The report outlines specific tasks for businesses and states to follow.
1. The State Duty to PROTECT Human Rights
- Through regulations that encourage corporations to respect human rights, e.g. sustainability reporting and evaluating corporate policies
- Working to balance investor interests (from Home states) with the desires of Host states to protect human rights, e.g. export credit agencies requiring due diligence on human rights impacts
- Capacity building and guidance from international bodies or other states
- Home state policies to protect against human rights abuses in conflict zones
2. The Corporate Responsibility to RESPECT Human Rights
- By acknowledging the human rights challenges in their specific country context
- Through their roles as “producers, service providers, employers, and neighbors”
- Through their connections with “business partners, suppliers, State agencies, and other non-State actors”
3. Access to REMEDY Human Rights Violations
Corporations and states are to strengthen grievance mechanisms for citizens or workers to report abuses through:
- State-based judicial and non-judicial grievance mechanisms
- Company-level grievance mechanisms
- Multi-stakeholder or industry initiatives and financiers
The framework holds companies to a high standard of upholding human rights – both in their own activities and in the activities of their partners and even country environment. Companies can be found complicit with human rights abuses while they conduct business as usual.
The Ruggie framework attempts to provide guidelines for firms to adhere to, albeit in different ways depending on the industry. Many industry leaders have already included the Ruggie framework in their own policies and completed audits of their policies and activities based on the Ruggie framework.
Next posts will explore the ongoing debate of which actors are responsible for upholding human rights – state or companies – and provide further insight into each of the framework’s pillars.