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A coherent implementation of the UNGPs demands legislation that makes companies respect human rights, ECCJ says to the UN Working Group on BHR

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The ECCJ has made a written submission to the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights for their upcoming report to the UN General Assembly on the topic of “Policy coherence in government action to protect against business-related human rights abuse”. Governments’ failure to regulate corporate human rights obligations is a major obstacle to ensure policy coherence in the implementation of the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs), ECCJ’s response highlights.

The Working Group’s upcoming report will look at what can be learned from current efforts to strengthen policy coherence in the context of the implementation of National Action Plans on Business and Human Rights (NAPs) and other policy frameworks. The report of the Working Group will be presented to the UN General Assembly in October 2019.

ECCJ’s contribution emphasizes that, while recent NAPs present positive developments (such as the involvement of various governments’ agencies in the drafting process), most plans still present important shortcomings that hinder a coherent and effective implementation of the UNGPs. Salient gaps were identified in the exploration of regulatory measures to ensure that companies respect human rights in their global business operations, and in the implementation of the UNGPs’ Third Pillar on Access to Remedy.

Hence, most action plans fail to sufficiently explore regulatory options to prevent corporate-related human rights abuses and ensure access to remedy. The majority of assessed NAPs are primarily focused on a voluntary approach to the corporate responsibility to respect human rights. This insufficient approach to the state regulatory capacity presents a serious hurdle to seriously address business-related human rights and environmental impacts.

This voluntary approach also stands in stark contrast to the “smart mix” principle established in the UNGPs. Guiding Principle 1 requires states to act through “effective policies, legislation, regulations and adjudications” in order to meet their duty to protect against human rights abuse by third parties.

You can read the full submission on the OHCHR website.

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