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European Commission Publishes Three Sector Guides on Human Rights by IHRB and Shift

01 June 2013.

In June 2013, the European Commission issued three Guides on implementing the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights for different industry sectors written by IHRB and Shift. These cover:

What the Guides Do:

Each Guide offers practical advice on how to implement the corporate responsibility to respect human rights in day-to-day business operations in each industry through step-by-step guidance. At each step, they summarise what the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights expect, offer a range of approaches and examples for how to put them into practice, and link users to additional resources that can support their work. They are intended to help companies “translate” respect for human rights into their own systems and cultures.

How the Guides were Developed:

The Guides were developed over 18 months by IHRB and Shift through extensive research and multistakeholder consultation with representatives from the three industries as well as governments, trade unions, civil society, academia and other experts.

Commenting on the launch, the European Commission and members of the project team's Expert Advisory Committee said:

Respect for human rights is part of the recipe for modern business excellence. This guidance meets global standards agreed in the UN while leaving enterprises the necessary flexibility to adapt their approach to their own particular circumstances.
Antonio Tajani, Vice-President of the European Commission, Enterprise and Industry
Business is an increasingly important player in the world of human rights. This guidance aims to help enterprises in Europe and elsewhere to meet the corporate responsibility to respect human rights, as defined by the UN and strongly endorsed by the EU.
Stavros Lambrinidis, EU Special Representative for Human Rights
The UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights were derived, on the one hand, from universal human rights standards and, on the other, from real world experience. Human rights, like life itself, cannot be reduced to a checklist or to simple slogans. It is only through understanding and reflection that the GPs can become “simple” and applicable. These Guidance publications are designed to further that process.
Jim Baker, Council of Global Unions
Dozens of sectoral guides and tools on how to implement the UN Guiding Principles are being produced. This is a solid indicator of the relevance and high demand for the Guiding Principles. Now users want to know whether the practical guides are actually aligned with Guiding Principles. A best practice example of such alignment are the new EC Sectoral Guidelines. They capture the essence of the Guiding Principles faithfully, they refer to the interdependence of the State, corporate and remedy pillars, and were formulated after technical research, expert consultations and multi-stakeholder dialogue processes with State, business and civil society actors from across the globe. They will no doubt be a valuable source for practitioners and affected persons alike.
Alexandra Guáqueta, UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights
The three sector guides are comprehensive compendiums which contribute to helping companies in those sectors and beyond gain understanding of the scope of the Guiding Principles for Business and Human Rights.
Brent Wilton, International Organisation of Employers (IOE)

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