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As the world’s largest annual gathering on business and human rights gets underway in Geneva this week, the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) is calling on governments to heighten efforts to develop and implement national action plans.

Bringing together over 2,000 participants – including government, business, civil society and academia – the 2016 UN Forum on Business and Human Rights is a major opportunity to assess progress in relation to the United Nations’ Guiding Principles (UNGP) on Business and Human Rights, and other current business-related human rights issues.

Endorsed by the UN Human Rights Council on 16 June 2011, the Guiding Principles comprise 31 principles and commentary based on three pillars, implementing the UN’s ‘protect, respect and remedy’ framework. They are a blueprint for what governments and companies need to do to put in place appropriate policies to respect human rights.

With only eight countries having implemented national action plans, ICC is undertaking efforts to mobilise its global network of national representatives, known as national committees, to call on their respective governments to develop a national plan in order to align national laws with global standards.

Business supports and is actively implementing Pillar 2 of the United Nations Guiding Principles in relation to corporate responsibility to respect human rights and many ICC member companies have already taken action to put in place access to remedy through company grievance mechanisms.

Speaking during a forum panel on human rights and investment treaties, ICC Senior Policy Manager Viviane Schiavi underscored the world business organization’s pivotal role in promoting business implementation of the UN Guiding Principles, and highlighted how the newly launched 2012 ICC Guidelines for International Investment call on investing companies to respect the human rights of those affected by their activities, consistent with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.

A broad range of businesses are already taking strong actions to support implementation of the Guiding Principles. The UNGP Reporting Database currently hosts the human rights disclosure of 40 companies from four sectors: apparel and footwear, extractives, food and beverages and information and communications technology.

“Business supports and is actively implementing Pillar 2 of the United Nations Guiding Principles in relation to corporate responsibility to respect human rights and many ICC member companies have already taken action to put in place access to remedy through company grievance mechanisms,” Ms Schiavi said. “But for businesses to appropriately assume corporate responsibility in relation to the respect of human rights, governments must fulfill their roles to implement national action plans within the shortest delay.”

ICC has long been committed to promoting the role business can and should play in respecting human rights and was actively engaged in the mandate of the Special Representative of the UN Secretary General on business and human rights from the outset of the work.

On 14 November ICC will co-host a special business-only side event in advance of the UN Forum. For further details, please contact Amanda Skaar.

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  • Dawn CHARDONNAL
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