Foley Hoag recently issued commentary on the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. As noted in an earlier post, an advance copy of the Guiding Principles was released in March by the U.N. Special Representative for Business and Human Rights, John Ruggie. The Principles will be considered by the U.N. Human Rights Council at its June 2011 session.
As noted in our commentary (a copy of which is available here)
The Principles are not binding international law. Nevertheless, they are the most authoritative international statement to date regarding the responsibilities of business with respect to human rights. It is likely that they will begin to influence national law and policy in jurisdictions including the United States and Europe.
The immediate value of the Principles is the guidance they provide to companies seeking to understand and manage the human rights impacts of their operations. The Principles set forth the central components of human rights due diligence and suggest that all companies should undertake such due diligence efforts with regard to their operations. We believe that human rights due diligence can help companies avoid and mitigate adverse human rights impacts which, in turn, can reduce legal, reputational, and operational risks.