Two years on from the introduction of the UN Guiding Principles on Human Rights, how are companies managing the landmark framework?

Business potentially infringes almost all aspects of human rights. How and to what extent remains a debate, and varies from company to company. But the truth of that potential now stands beyond doubt. That much is spelt out in the UN Guiding Principles on Human Rights, which the UN Human Rights Council fully endorsed in June 2011.

Drawn up by John Ruggie, the guiding principles set out broad norms for companies to follow with respect to their own immediate operations as well as their business relationships. Binding these norms together are the three governing themes of the Protect, Respect, Remedy framework.

But what are the management approaches that companies use to implement the UN framework? And how are these integrated into existing systems and strategies?

Setting out your stall

If you don’t have a human rights policy, get one. That’s the first piece of advice of any guidance document on the subject (see box). Setting out your stall helps provide clarity – clarity for employees on how they should act, and clarity for stakeholders on what they should expect.

Policy statements need sign-off. Boards don’t put their name to just anything. If a company’s leaders publicly commit to respect all internationally recognised human...

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Human rights  Oliver Balch  reputation  supply chain  UN Principles 

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