Our key takeaway: The UN’s human rights office has spoken. We already have a global consensus that companies have a responsibility to respect human rights in their own activities and across their value chains. We already have a blueprint for companies on how to respect human rights in practice. Look no further than the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights for answers to all things ‘business and human rights.’ The contents of the UNGPs represent a “principled yet practical logic” which “ended a decades-long debate over the appropriate role of business when it comes to respecting human rights.” Therefore, EU Member States and the European Parliament: Please do not reinvent the wheel. Doing so would jeopardize the very outcomes we are seeking to achieve through this directive. OHCHR calls out four areas in particular for EU institutions and Member States to pay attention to: (1) take a true risk-based approach - taking a full value chain approach; (2) create clear meaningful due diligence actions that differ depending on the company’s mode of involvement with the impact, (3) ensure meaningful consultation is at the heart of human rights due diligence and (4) provide for meaningful accountability measures, including administrative supervision and civil liability. The EU is demonstrating leadership - yes - but only to the extent that it does not undermine years of progress in the field of business and human rights.
The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) published ‘Final Call for Alignment of the EU Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights’ (October 2023):