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European Commission Human Rights Sector Guidance Project: Developing Guidance on the Corporate Responsibility to Respect Human Rights in the Employment & Recruitment Agencies, Information & Communications Technology, and Oil & Gas Sectors

The Institute for Human Rights and Business (IHRB) and Shift (the Project Team) were selected to carry out the project of developing the three guides for the Commission over the course of 2012.

Update! Project Timeline Extended to April 2013

Over the first half of 2012, the Project Team received numerous requests across all stakeholder groups to allow for adequate time for consultation on the draft guidance documents. In light of this, the Project Team formally requested an extension to the project timeline from the European Commission, which was approved in August 2012. Please see the updated project timeline below for details of the guidance development and extended consultation processes.

New Project Timeline

  • January – March 2012: Consultation on and finalisation of sector selection, formalisation of European Commission Expert Advisory Committee and Project Sector Advisory Groups, and appointment of sector-specific researchers.
  • April – August 2012: Ongoing research, in-depth confidential interviews with a broad range of stakeholders (including select country visits), a public consultation on three sector-specific Discussion Papers and the first set of multi–stakeholder sector Roundtables hosted by the European Commission (held 30 May – 1 June 2012), as well as additional desk-based research.
  • September – November 2012: Guidance drafting phase, further specific research and interviews as needed.
  • Early December 2012: Release of draft Guidance documents for public comment.
  • December 2012 – January 2013: Public consultation on draft Guidance documents and second set of multi-stakeholder sector Roundtables (end January) hosted by the European Commission
  • February – April 2013: Guidance finalisation, submission of the three Guidance documents to the European Commission and publication.

Project Background

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The European Commission identified the development of guidance on the corporate responsibility to respect human rights under the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights as one of its priority actions in its October 2011 Communication on Corporate Social Responsibility. The Institute for Human Rights and Business (IHRB) and Shift (the Project Team) were selected to carry out the project of developing the three guides for the Commission.

In February 2012, the Commission announced that guidance would be developed for the employment and recruitment agencies, information and communication technology (ICT) and oil and gas sectors.

The selection of the three sectors was informed by analysis carried out by Shift and IHRB against a set of publicly available objective criteria, which included consideration of submissions from business, NGOs and other stakeholders.

Together, the sectors face a wide range of significant human rights challenges that could benefit from detailed guidance focused on the corporate responsibility to respect human rights. Guidance to be developed under the project will also have added value to businesses from other sectors facing similar human rights related issues. The guides should serve as a reference for businesses from the sector in question for the development of their own human rights policies and processes and should also serve as a basis for further constructive engagement with other stakeholders.

Consultation Process

In line with the approach to the development of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, the Project Team is committed to developing sector-specific guidance based on extensive multi-stakeholder consultation. Visit the Consultation Documents and Reports page for information on the public reports and documents produced to date.

While the guides will take account of the experiences of EU business, they aim to be as globally relevant as possible, and their development is being informed by the views of a wide range of stakeholders, including representatives from business, civil society, trade union, and government, as well as other experts.

The project team is conducting baseline research, extensive interviews with diverse stakeholders (75+ per sector), and facilitate two multistakeholder roundtables per sector (the first was held from 30 May – 1 June 2012). The project team is also drawing on the guidance of the European Commission's Expert Advisory Committee (EAC) and three Sector Advisory Groups (SAGs).

The Project Team welcomes comments or questions regarding the project from organisations or individuals at

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