The third United Nations Forum on Business and Human Rights took place in Geneva from the 1st to the 3rd December. Hundreds of groups representing communities affected by corporate activities, trade unions, NGOs, companies and State representatives participated. This year discussions focused on access to justice, the 3rd pillar of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs), which is also the area where some feel that least progress has been made.

Marilyn Croser, CORE Coalition and ECCJ board member, presented our newest report, developed with the support of ICAR, an analysis of the four national action plans on the implementation the UNGPs published so far. She welcomed the fact that States are taking business and human rights seriously, but she emphasised that much more remains to be done if the plans are to tackle corporate accountability. She highlighted that a better balance between mandatory and voluntary measures should be achieved, and notably that States must consider mandating human rights due diligence if they want companies to respect human rights.

Geneviève Paul, FIDH and ECCJ board member, presented the outcome of a project on the lack of access to justice. Looking at the obstacles for victims to access justice as well as the opportunities, she presented possible legal reforms available to the European Union and European States.

Stavros Lambrinidis, EU Special Representative for Human Rights, recalled in a tweet that the implementation of the UNGPs was a priority for the European Union. This was echoed by the Head of the EU Delegation in Geneva. In light of this, it is disappointing that the UNGPs plan which the EU has committed to develop has been further delayed to 2015.

Just recently, Germany launched a very ambitious process to develop a national plan. No less can be expected from the EU. The review of the European Corporate Social Responsibility strategy and the European Human Rights framework where the UNGPs are inserted are excellent opportunities to develop a bold plan of action.

You can find a summary of each day here:
UN Forum Day 1: Pleas to strengthen access to remedy for victims of abuses echo throughout first day of UN Forum, Eniko Horvath, Business & Human Rights Resource Centre, 1 Dec 2014
UN Forum Day 2: Open dialogue on corporate responsibility to respect begs questions of implementation, Eniko Horvath, Business & Human Rights Resource Centre, 2 Dec 2014
UN Forum Day 3: Focus on victims & defenders is fundamental for all stakeholders’ work on business & human rights, Eniko Horvath, Business & Human Rights Resource Centre, 3 Dec 2014