On Monday, July 30, 2012 Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor Michael H. Posner hosted representatives of civil society organizations, think tanks, and multilateral and academic institutions for a workshop on the United Nations (UN) Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. Participants identified key challenges and new opportunities for the U.S. Government in implementing the principles. The workshop was an important step to finding collaborative solutions for human rights challenges in an environment where global business is growing in power and influence.
Assistant Secretary Posner addressed the U.S. Government’s approach to the “State Duty to Protect” human rights under the first pillar of the UN “Protect, Respect, and Remedy” framework, and challenged civil society actors to think critically about implementing the UN Guiding Principles. He noted that U.S. Government work to date includes the issuance of the first-ever set of human rights due diligence reporting requirements for U.S. persons seeking to invest in Burma, and launch of a $500,000 program to build civil society capacity to work with businesses to mitigate human rights risk.
The Guiding Principles are the first global set of guidelines on business and human rights endorsed by the UN and provide an important focal point for corporations, states, civil society and other actors as they work to strengthen their respective approaches to business and human rights. The principles are organized under a three pillar “Protect, Respect and Remedy” framework, providing that states have a duty to protect human rights, businesses have a responsibility to respect human rights, and there should be an access to remedy for victims of business-related abuse.
This was the second State Department-hosted workshop on the UN Guiding Principles. The first workshop was held in April for the business community and focused on respecting human rights in business operations.