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Monday, November 25 • 09:00 - 10:15
Human rights due diligence: trends and challenges

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Session organized by the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights

Background and focus:
In its 2018 report to the UN General Assembly, the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights noted that since the adoption of the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights in 2011, corporate human rights due diligence has become a norm of expected conduct. It observed that this standard has been integrated in other policy frameworks for responsible business, such as the 2018 OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Business Conduct that provides concrete guidance for due diligence in practice. The Working Group also noted that 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. In the 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.

Its overall assessment was that 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. It noted that 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.

This session builds on the findings from the Working Group’s 2018 report and seeks to shed light on the most recent developments with regard to:
  • Are we seeing progress in uptake by companies?
  • Are we finally seeing a push by more governments to develop more effective measures to drive corporate human rights due diligence?
  • What are the most recent trends in the investment community?
  • What overall trends are emerging for corporate-related impacts on human rights?

Speakers will include experts from OECD, corporate human rights benchmark initiatives, the ESG field and civil society.

Key documents


Caroline Brodeur

Business and Human Rights Advisor, Private Sector Department, Oxfam America

Danielle Essink

Senior Engagement Specialist, Active Ownership, Robeco
avatar for Dante Pesce

Dante Pesce

Member, UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights

Teresa Fogelberg

Chair Transparency Benchmark at Netherlands Ministry Economic Affairs
avatar for Margaret Wachenfeld

Margaret Wachenfeld

Board director, Corporate Human Rights Benchmark
Margaret Wachenfeld is an international lawyer and policy adviser with more than 25 years of experience, an interdisciplinary skill set and a global reach. Margaret works at the leading edge of the convergence of sustainability, human rights and responsible business conduct. She has... Read More →

Monday November 25, 2019 09:00 - 10:15
Room XXI