Category Archives: U.N. Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights

Five on Friday – Five Recent Developments that We’ve Been Watching Closely

iStock_000011057325XSmallIt’s Friday and time for another overview of developments in the field of business and human rights that we’ve been monitoring.

This week’s post includes: a new report from the U.N. Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression; reviews of the latest round of conflict minerals reports; corporate efforts to address the risks of sex and labor trafficking in connection with the Olympic Games;… More

Five on Friday – Five Recent Developments that We’ve Been Watching Closely

iStock_000011057325XSmallIt’s Friday and time for another overview of developments in the field of business and human rights that we’ve been monitoring.

This week’s post includes: the release of the third, and likely final, draft of the World Bank’s revised safeguard policies; guidance for management accountants on how to identify human rights-related risks and manage human rights performance; and developments in a major Alien Tort Statute case.

  • On July 20,…
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Five on Friday – Five Recent Developments that We’ve Been Watching Closely

iStock_000011057325XSmallIt’s Friday and time for another overview of developments in the field of business and human rights that we’ve been monitoring.

This week’s post includes: a new guide for business lawyers from the International Bar Association that seeks to promote implementation of the U.N. Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights; the public release of Know the Chain’s first report benchmarking technology companies on efforts to address forced labor in their supply chains;… More

Five on Friday – Five Recent Developments that We’ve Been Watching Closely

iStock_000011057325XSmallIt’s Friday and time for another overview of developments in the field of business and human rights that we’ve been monitoring.

This week’s post includes: new guidance for boards of directors on business and human rights; the launch of the Responsible Sourcing Tool; the release of the 2016 Global Slavery Index; and a new code of conduct in Europe by which American Internet companies have committed to taking actions to combat illegal hate speech.… More

Five on Friday – Five Recent Developments that We’ve Been Watching Closely

iStock_000011057325XSmallIt’s Friday and time for another overview of developments in the field of business and human rights that we’ve been monitoring.

This week’s post includes: new private and public initiatives on recruitment fees, including a proposal to further amend the U.S. Government’s Federal Acquisition Regulation to provide a clear definition of such fees; the dismissal of a lawsuit brought by victims of the Rana Plaza factory collapse;… More

Five on Friday – Five Recent Developments that We’ve Been Watching Closely

It’s FridaiStock_000011057325XSmally and time for another overview of developments in the field of business and human rights that we’ve been monitoring.

This week’s post includes: developments on mandatory disclosure requirements in both the United States and Europe; a new report from Professor John Ruggie addressing the human rights responsibilities of FIFA; and an update from Oxfam on its “Behind the Brands” campaign.

  • On April 14,…
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Five on Friday – Five Recent Developments that We’ve Been Watching Closely

iStock_000011057325XSmallIt’s Friday and time for another overview of developments in the field of business and human rights that we’ve been monitoring.

This week’s post includes: the first reports published pursuant to the requirements of the U.K. Modern Slavery Act; an overview of social and environmental shareholder proposals filed for the 2016 proxy season; and a new effort to benchmark technology companies on their policies and practices with regard to forced labor in their supply chains.… More

Five on Friday – Five Recent Developments that We’ve Been Watching Closely

iStock_000011057325XSmallIt’s Friday and time for another overview of developments in the field of business and human rights that we’ve been monitoring.

This week’s post includes: Apple’s refusal to comply with a federal court order; a new report highlighting the most pressing business and human rights challenges facing companies today; and an evaluation of corporate compliance with the California Transparency in Supply Chains Act.

Five on Friday – Five Recent Developments that We’ve Been Watching Closely

iStock_000011057325XSmallIt’s Friday and time for another overview of developments in the field of business and human rights that we’ve been monitoring.

This week’s post includes: recent developments with regard to a major Alien Tort Statute case; the announcement of a pilot effort to benchmark corporate human rights performance; and a major new report demonstrating the potential links between anti-corruption compliance programs and effort to eradicate labor trafficking in corporate supply chains.… More

Human Rights Expectations for the Banking Sector: A New Report from Foley Hoag and UNEP FI

TransparencyAttorneys in Foley Hoag’s Corporate Social Responsibility (“CSR”) practice and the U.N. Environment Programme Finance Initiative (“UNEP FI”) recently collaborated on a report analyzing the implications of the U.N. Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights for the banking sector. A copy of the report is available here.

In addition to assessing the implications of the U.N. Guiding Principles, the report evaluates existing national and international human rights laws and the extent to which these existing laws may create potential liabilities for banks and/or their officers.… More

Managing Legal and Reputational Risks in an Era of Enhanced Transparency

HiRes (2)Companies face a range of new requirements and expectations calling for enhanced transparency regarding human rights-related risks in connection with their operations. Responsible compliance with both mandatory requirements and voluntary standards requires a coordinated internal approach that seeks to address the concerns of key stakeholders while mitigating potential legal risks.

Examples of new transparency requirements include:

Five on Friday – Five Recent Developments that We’ve Been Watching Closely

iStock_000011057325XSmallIt’s Friday and time for our latest overview of developments in the field of business and human rights that we’ve been monitoring.

This week’s post includes notice of several new lawsuits regarding human rights concerns in corporate supply chains as well as coverage of the European Court of Justice’s recent decision to strike down the 15-year old “Safe Harbor” agreement allowing companies to self-certify that their data transfers between the United States and Europe are in compliance with E.U.… More

Five on Friday – Five Recent Developments that We’ve Been Watching Closely

iStock_000011057325XSmallIt’s Friday, which means it’s time for another rundown of five developments in the field of business and human rights — and broader corporate social responsibility — that we’ve been monitoring.

This week’s post includes a number of recent reports on issues ranging from conflict minerals to children’s rights. It also notes the release of the Sustainable Development Goals and the convening of Climate Week NYC.… More

H.R. 3226: New Bill Calls for Transparency on Trafficking and Slavery in Corporate Supply Chains

SlaveryIn late July, Representative Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) introduced H.R. 3226, the Business Supply Chain Transparency on Trafficking and Slavery Act of 2015. The bill, if passed, would require companies to file annual reports with the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) disclosing their efforts to identify and address specific human rights risks in their supply chains. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) is expected to introduce a companion bill in the Senate.… More

G7 Leaders Issue Declaration Supporting Private Sector Implementation of Human Rights Due Diligence

Picture1At the conclusion of the G7 Summit held on June 7 and 8, the assembled leaders released a declaration endorsing the U.N. Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. Specifically, leaders of the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, and Japan stated that

We strongly support the U.N. Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and welcome the efforts to set up substantive National Action Plans.… More

U.N. Guiding Principles Reporting Framework Released by the Human Rights Reporting and Assurance Frameworks Initiative

HiRes (2)In late February, after 18 months of research and consultation, a new Reporting Framework has been released to help companies report on their human rights performance in a manner aligned with the expectations set forth in the U.N. Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. The Reporting Framework is intended to enable companies of all sizes, and in all sectors, to report on their efforts to operate consistently with the corporate responsibility to respect human rights.… More

Frequently Asked Questions on the U.S. Government’s National Action Plan on Responsible Business Conduct

Global BusinessOn February 12, the U.S. Department of State released a set of “Frequently Asked Questions” (“FAQs”) with regard to the U.S. Government’s efforts to develop a National Action Plan on Responsible Business Conduct. The plan is expected to be released by the end of this year.

As announced in September, the U.S. Government is working on a National Action Plan “to promote and incentivize responsible business conduct,… More

Protecting the Rights of Children Should Be Integral to Every Corporate Social Responsibility Strategy

child-labor-349989_640Consideration of the rights of children should be integral to any Corporate Social Responsibility (“CSR”) strategy or policy. Traditionally, companies have focused on reducing and eliminating the use of child labor in their supply chains as a means of protecting the rights of children. While important, companies should keep in mind that respecting and protecting children’s rights extends far beyond the use of child labor.… More

Canada Announces Revised Corporate Social Responsibility Strategy for the Extractive Sector

Map of Canada in Canadian flag colorsIn November, the Government of Canada announced a revised Corporate Social Responsibility (“CSR”) strategy for the extractive sector. Building on Canada’s plan for Responsible Resource Development, the strategy (“Doing Business the Canadian Way: Advancing Corporate Social Responsibility in Canada’s Extractive Sector Abroad“) focuses on the activities of extractive sector companies, but is intended to provide “a more general audience with an overview of Canada’s approach to promoting and advancing CSR abroad.”… More

International Bar Association Releases Guidance for Lawyers on the U.N. Guiding Principles

International Bar Association Conference on Law and Corporate Social ResponsibilityThe Business and Human Rights Working Group of the International Bar Association (“IBA”) recently released draft guidance for bar association and business lawyers on implementation of the U.N. Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (“the U.N. Guiding Principles”).

As stated in a press release by the IBA, the intent of the draft guidance for bar associations is to:

  • encourage bar associations to improve understanding of the relevance and applicability of business and human rights principles;…
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United States to Develop National Action Plan on Responsible Business Conduct

Global BusinessOn September 24, at a meeting of the Open Government Partnership at the United Nations, President Obama announced that the U.S. Government would develop a national action plan to promote responsible business conduct. The United States had been under considerable pressure from civil society organizations and others to develop such a plan.

Specifically, and as stated in a fact sheet released by the White House:

The United States will develop a National Action Plan to promote and incentivize responsible business conduct,… More

Transparency and Human Trafficking: Is Your Company Prepared?

iStock_000030023406SmallCompanies increasingly face expectations that they will “know and show” that they are taking appropriate steps to manage the human rights impacts associated with their business activities. New transparency requirements on issues ranging from conflict minerals to investments in Burma reflect this trend.

With respect to human trafficking, existing statutes such as the California Transparency in Supply Chains Act and proposed statutes such as the Business Supply Chain Transparency on Trafficking and Slavery Act require companies to report on their efforts to conduct due diligence on their supply chains in order to identify the risks of human trafficking.… More

H.R. 4842: New Bill Calls for Transparency on Trafficking and Slavery in Corporate Supply Chains

SlaveryOn June 11, Representative Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) introduced H.R. 4842, the Business Supply Chain Transparency on Trafficking and Slavery Act of 2014. The bill, if passed, would require companies to file annual reports with the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) disclosing their efforts to identify and address specific human rights risks in their supply chains.

The proposed federal legislation, co-sponsored by Representative Chris Smith (R-NJ),… More

Mandatory Social and Financial Reporting: Coming Soon to the European Union

Flag_of_Europe.svgCorporate social responsibility (“CSR”) may have its roots in voluntary efforts by businesses to address their broader impacts on society, but the trend towards CSR becoming mandatory advanced significantly this week under a deal that will soon require all large European companies to begin issuing annual social and environmental performance reports.

On February 26, the European Council and the European Commission reached an agreement that all but guarantees that the forthcoming European directive on corporate social responsibility will require all publicly traded companies with more than 500 employees to report their performance on a number of non-financial metrics every year.… More

Responding to Investor Concerns Regarding Human Rights Impacts

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Increasingly, companies will face explicit demands from investors, especially members of the socially responsible investor community, that they provide detailed disclosures regarding internal processes and procedures to assess and manage the human rights impacts of their operations. For many companies, responding to these requests will require careful review of the nature of the impacts of their operations and the development of internal capacity to understand and communicate those impacts through a human rights lens.… More

Participants in the Voluntary Principles Initiative Gather for 2013 Annual Plenary Meeting

On March 13-14, participants in the Voluntary Principles Initiative gathered in The Hague for the 2013 Annual Plenary Meeting. Foley Hoag’s Corporate Social Responsibility (“CSR”) practice has served as the Secretariat for the Voluntary Principles Initiative since June 2010.

Established in 2000, the Voluntary Principles Initiative is a tri-partite multistakeholder initiative that provides guidance to companies in extractive industries on maintaining the safety and security of their operations within a framework that ensures respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms.… More

Telecommunications Companies Release Guiding Principles on Freedom of Expression and Privacy

The Telecommunications Industry Dialogue, a group of eight telecommunications companies, recently published a set of Guiding Principles on freedom of expression and privacy. Originally formed in 2011, the Industry Dialogue also announced a two-year partnership with the Global Network Initiative.

Current participants in the Industry Dialogue include: Alcatel-Lucent, France Telecom-Orange, Millicom,… More

Looking Ahead: Five Developments We’ll be Watching in 2013

As memories of New Year’s Eve fade, and another Inauguration Day winds down in Washington, D.C., it’s time to look ahead and identify key events and emerging trends that we think will help shape the business and human rights agenda in 2013.

Here are five developments that we’ll be watching closely:

Further integration of human rights considerations into business management systems. Eighteen months after the release of the U.N.… More

John Ruggie Gives Opening Address at U.N. Forum on Business and Human Rights

On December 4 and 5, more than 1,000 participants from 85 countries gathered for the first U.N. Forum on Business and Human Rights in Geneva, Switzerland. The Forum focused on “trends and challenges” in the implementation of the U.N. Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (the “Guiding Principles”), which were formally endorsed by the U.N. Human Rights Council in June 2011. The Forum includes discussions of a broad set of key issues in the business and human rights space,… More

Social Risk Assessment: China Raises Its Game

Until recently, it was not uncommon for Chinese companies to be invoked as bogeymen in certain circles. The narrative went something like this:

Western companies are more accountable than Chinese companies – via tort suits, civil society pressure, government regulation, and non-judicial accountability mechanisms such as the OECD Guidelines, to name a few.  Although Western companies’ operations do create negative social, environmental and human rights impacts,… More

Human Rights Due Diligence – An Emerging Requirement in State and Federal Legislation

Two years ago, in October 2010, I published a post, Human Rights Due Diligence and the Corporate Lawyer, that addressed the need for corporate counsel to assess stakeholder expectations that companies should be accountable for identifying, and taking action to mitigate, the adverse human rights impacts of their operations. At the time, the expectation that companies should conduct human right due diligence had been put forward as a fundamental component of the “Protect,… More

Newly Released Draft Equator Principles Reflect Greater Focus on Human Rights

The proposed draft of the revised Equator Principles, released on August 13, reflects a greater focus on human rights, with explicit mention of the expectation of human rights due diligence as set forth in the U.N. Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. The revised Principles also cover a wider range of project financing structures in recognition of the fact that the project finance market has diversified significantly since the Principles were first released in 2003.… More

Responsible Investment in Burma (Myanmar): An Experiment that Cannot Afford to Fail

Amy Lehr, the author of this post, will be presenting during a webinar on “Responsible Business in Myanmar: Operating Context, Sanctions, and International CSR Standards,” this Thursday, August 16, at 11:00 a.m. She will be joined by John Ruggie and Gare Smith. Information on registration can be found here.

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The U.S. decision to ease financial and investment sanctions on Burma for the first time since 1997 is a landmark – and controversial – moment.… More

Leverage and the Management of Adverse Human Rights Impacts

iStock_000012791010XSmallOne of the challenges for companies seeking to manage the adverse human rights impacts of their operations is how to deal with impacts that are most directly tied to business partners, suppliers, and even governments. Companies have varying degrees of control over the actions of third parties, and yet the activities of third parties have the potential to expose companies to a range of reputational – and legal – risks.… More

Advocates Seek Human Rights Commitments from Telecommunications Companies

Access, an advocacy organization that promotes open and secure access to the Internet, recently released its Telco Action Plan, a document that sets forth ten steps and implementation objectives for telecommunications companies (“telcos”) seeking to operate with respect for human rights.  

Access launched the plan at last month’s Stockholm Internet Forum and intends to use the document as a platform for dialogue with telcos that seek to operate in political and legal contents that may post threats to freedom of expression,… More

U.S. Supreme Court Review of Corporate Liability Under the Alien Tort Statute — An Overview of the Oral Arguments in Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum

On February 28, in proceedings that were both closely watched and anxiously anticipated, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum. For the first time, the question of whether corporations are proper defendants in Alien Tort Statute ("ATS") cases is squarely before the Court.  Petitioners had sought Supreme Court review of a decision by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals finding that corporations are not proper defendants under the ATS.… More

Investors Urge Congress to Prioritize Proposed Transparency in Supply Chains Legislation

A coalition of 80 institutional investors sent a letter to Congress last week in support of the Business Transparency on Trafficking and Slavery Act (HR 2759).  As discussed previously, the proposed legislation would require companies to disclose efforts to identify and address the risks of human trafficking, forced labor, slavery, and the worst forms of child labor in their supply chains.

Modeled after the California Transparency in Supply Chains Act,… More

Business Ethics Magazine: An Interview with John Ruggie

Business Ethics magazine recently published an interview with John Ruggie, the former U.N. Special Representative on Business and Human Rights who recently joined Foley Hoag’s CSR practice as a senior advisor. Michael Connor, Editor and Publisher of Business Ethics, conducted the interview.  The conversation focused on the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, the business drivers for respecting human rights, and the ways in which the Principles have been adopted by both public and private stakeholders.… More

Author of UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights Joins Foley Hoag

Press Release

September 7, 2011 — John G. Ruggie, the former U.N. Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Business and Human Rights and current Harvard professor, has joined Foley Hoag LLP’s Corporate Social Responsibility Practice as a senior advisor.

Ruggie authored the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, which the U.N. Human Rights Council unanimously endorsed in June after six years of development.… More