Draft Fundamental Human Rights Principles for Business Enterprises, Addendum 1, U.N. Doc. E/CN.4/Sub.2/2002/X/Add.1, E/CN.4/Sub.2/2002/WG.2/WP.1/Add.1 (Draft for Discussion November 2001).
The February 2002 draft of the Principles
and the Principles
with Commentary are now available.
COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS
Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights
Item 4 of the provisional agenda
Sessional working group on the working methods and
activities of transnational corporations
ECONOMIC, SOCIAL AND CULTURAL RIGHTS
Addendum 1: Draft Fundamental Human Rights Principles for Business Enterprises
The following Draft Fundamental Human Rights Principles for Business Enterprises is introduced in U.N. Doc. E/CN.4/Sub.2/2002/WP.1 and is a revision of the Draft Universal Human Rights Guidelines for Companies in E/CN.4/Sub.2/2001/WG.2/WP.1/Add.1, based on the comments received at the 53rdsession of the U.N. Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights and its Sessional working group on the working methods and activities of transnational corporations.
DRAFT FUNDAMENTAL HUMAN RIGHTS PRINCIPLES FOR BUSINESS ENTERPRISES
Recalling that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights proclaims a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations, to the end that governments, other organs of society, and individuals shall strive by teaching and education to promote respect for human rights and freedoms and by progressive measures to secure their universal and effective recognition and observance,
Recognizing that even though governments have the primary responsibility to promote and protect human rights, transnational corporations and other business enterprises, as organs of society, are also responsible for promoting and securing the human rights elaborated by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,
Realizing that transnational corporations and other business enterprises, their officers, and their workers are further obligated directly or indirectly to respect international human rights and other international legal standards in many U.N. treaties and other international instruments such as the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide; the International Convention Against Torture and Other Forms of Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment; the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination; the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women; the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights; International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights; the Convention on the Rights of the Child; the four Geneva Conventions for the Protection of Victims of Armed Conflict; the Nuremberg Charter; the Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms; the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court; the Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime; the Convention on Civil Liability for Oil Pollution Damage; the Convention on Civil Liability for Damage Resulting from Activities Dangerous to the Environment; the Charter on Fundamental Rights of the European Union, the OECD's Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions, ILO conventions and recommendations and other instruments,
Taking into account the labour and other standards elaborated in the International Labour Organization Tripartite Declaration of Principles Concerning Multinational Enterprises and Social Policy,
Aware of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises and its Committee on International Investment and Multinational Enterprises; the U.N. Global Compact initiative which challenges business leaders to "embrace and enact" nine basic principles with respect to human rights, including labour rights and the environment; and the ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and the Rights at Work,
Conscious of the efforts of the ILO Committee on Multinational Enterprises; the interpretation of standards by the ILO Committee on Multinational Enterprises, the ILO Committee of Experts, the Conference Committee on the Application of Standards, and the Declaration Expert-Advisors; and the ILO Committee on Freedom of Association which has named business enterprises implicated in governments' failure to comply with ILO Conventions 87 and 98, and seeking to supplement and assist their efforts to encourage business enterprises to protect human rights,
Taking note of global trends which have increased the power and influence of transnational corporations and other business enterprises - and particularly transnational corporations -- on the economies of most countries and in international economic relations; and the growing number of business enterprises which operate across national boundaries in a variety of arrangements resulting in economic activities beyond the reach of any one national system,
Noting that transnational corporations and other business enterprises have been very important means of fostering economic well-being, development, technological improvement, and wealth as well as having a human rights impact on the lives of individuals through their employment practices, environmental policies, relationships with suppliers and consumers, interactions with governments, and other activities,
Acknowledging the universality, indivisibility, interdependence, and interrelatedness of human rights, including the right to development that entitles every human person and all peoples to participate in; contribute to; and enjoy economic, social, cultural, and political development in which all human rights and fundamental freedoms can be fully realized,
Reaffirming that transnational corporations and other business enterprises already have human rights responsibilities and that setting forth these human rights principles will supplement existing internationally recognized laws and standards and will aid in the clarification of those responsibilities,
Solemnly proclaims these Fundamental Human Rights Principles for Transnational Corporations and other Business Enterprises and urges that every effort be made so that they becomes generally known and respected:
A. General Obligations
1. While governments have the primary obligation to respect, ensure respect for, prevent abuses of, and promote internationally recognized human rights, transnational corporations and other business enterprises also have the obligation to respect, ensure respect for, prevent abuses of, and promote international human rights within their respective spheres of activity and influence.
2. Nothing in these Principles shall diminish the human rights obligations of governments.
a. The obligation of business enterprises under these Principles applies equally to the activities occurring in the home country of the business or in any country in which the business is engaged in activities. Businesses shall endeavour to ensure that subcontractors, joint venture partnerships, commercial partnerships, suppliers, and others with whom they agree to conduct activities observe these Principles.
b. Business enterprises shall inform themselves of the human rights impact of their principal activities and major proposed activities, so that they can avoid complicity in human rights abuses. Business enterprises shall have the responsibility to ensure that their business activities do not contribute directly or indirectly to human rights abuses, and that they do not knowingly benefit from these abuses. Businesses shall further refrain from activities that would undermine the rule of law as well as governmental and other efforts to promote and ensure respect for human rights, and shall use their influence in order to help promote and ensure respect for human rights. The Principles may not be used by governments as an excuse for failing to take action to protect human rights, for example, through the enforcement of existing laws.
B. Right to Equal Opportunity and Treatment
3. Business enterprises shall pursue policies which ensure equality of opportunity and treatment, for the purpose of eliminating discrimination based on race, colour, sex, religion, political opinion, nationality, social origin, social status, indigenous status, disability, age (over the age of majority), marital status, capacity to bear children, pregnancy, sexual orientation, genetic features, or other status of the individual unrelated to the individual's ability to perform his/her job.
a. Businesses shall treat each worker with equality, respect, and dignity. No worker shall be subject to direct or indirect physical, sexual, racial, psychological, verbal, or any other discriminatory form of harassment or abuse as defined above. No worker shall be subject to intimidation or degrading treatment; or be disciplined without fair procedures. Businesses shall establish a work environment in which it is clear that such discrimination will not be tolerated
b. Discrimination means any distinction, exclusion, or preference made on the above stated bases, which has the effect of nullifying or impairing equality of opportunity or treatment in employment or occupation. All policies of businesses, including, but not limited to those relating to recruitment, hiring, discharge, pay, promotion, and training shall be non-discriminatory. Special measures designed to meet the particular requirements of some workers, or to overcome past discrimination against certain groups, shall be allowed in this context.
c. Particular attention should be devoted to the consequences of company activities that may affect the rights of women and particularly in regard to conditions of work.
d. Business enterprises shall treat other stakeholders, such as indigenous peoples and communities, with respect and dignity, and on a basis of equality.
C. Right to Security of Persons
4. Business enterprises shall not engage in nor benefit from war crimes, crimes against humanity, genocide, torture, forced disappearance, forced or compulsory labour, hostage-taking, abuses in internal armed conflict, and other international crimes against the human person.
a. Businesses, which supply military, security, or police products/services, shall take stringent steps to prevent those products and services from being used to commit human rights or humanitarian law violations.
b. Businesses shall not produce or sell weapons that have been declared illegal under international law. Businesses shall not engage in trade that is known to lead to serious human rights abuses.
5. Security arrangements for business enterprises shall observe the law and professional standards of the country in which they operate in so far as those laws do not conflict with international human rights standards.
a. Businesses, their officers, workers, subcontractors, and agents shall observe emerging best practices developed by the industry, civil society, and governments; and international human rights standards, particularly the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment; the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court; the U.N. Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms; and the U.N. Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officers, to the extent applicable.
b. Business security arrangements shall be used only for preventive or defensive services and they shall not be used for activities that are exclusively the responsibility of the state military or law enforcement services. Security personnel shall only use force when strictly necessary and only to an extent proportional to the threat.
c. Security personnel shall not violate the rights of individuals while exercising the rights to freedom of association and peaceful assembly, to engage in collective bargaining, or to enjoy other related rights of workers and employers as recognized by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work.
d. Businesses shall record and report to appropriate authorities any credible information about human rights abuses by public security personnel in areas of their operation. Where appropriate, businesses shall urge investigation and action be taken to prevent recurrences.
e. Businesses shall record and investigate all credible information about human rights abuses by private security personnel. In cases where the information about human rights abuses by private security providers is forwarded to relevant law enforcement authorities, businesses shall monitor the status of the investigation and press for its proper resolution.
f. Businesses shall establish policies against hiring individuals or working with units of state security forces or contract security firms that are known to have been responsible for human rights abuses. To the extent of their resources and capabilities, businesses shall ensure that guards in their employ are adequately trained, guided by, and particularly trained concerning relevant international limitations and caution with regard, for example, to the use of force and firearms. If a company contracts with a state security force or a private security firm, the relevant provisions of these Principles (4 and 5 as well as the related commentary) shall be incorporated in the contract.
g. Businesses using public security forces shall consult regularly with host governments concerning the impact of their security arrangements on local communities, communicate their policies regarding ethical conduct and human rights, and express their desire that security be provided in a manner consistent with those policies by personnel with adequate and effective training.
D. Rights of Workers
6. Business enterprises shall not use forced or compulsory labour.
a. Businesses shall not use forced or compulsory labour (including slavery, bonded, or indentured labour), as forbidden in ILO Conventions 29 and 125 (Forced and Bonded Labour). Workers shall be recruited, paid, and provided with working conditions, including wages, that will allow them to avoid debt bondage and other contemporary forms of slavery.
b. Workers shall have the option to leave employment and the employer must facilitate such departure by providing all the necessary documentation and facilitation.
c. Employers shall have resort to prison labour only in the conditions enumerated in ILO Convention 29 which allows such labour only if the prisoners concerned have been convicted in a court of law, take part voluntarily in employment for private undertakings, and under the supervision and control of public authority.
7. Business enterprises shall respect the rights of children to be protected from economic exploitation.
a. Economic exploitation of children includes employment or work in any occupation of any person before the completion of compulsory schooling and in any case less than 15 years which employment is harmful to their health or development, will prevent the child from attending school or performing school-related responsibilities, or otherwise is not consistent with ILO Convention 138 and Recommendation 146 (Minimum Age), ILO Convention 182 and Recommendation 190 (Worst Forms of Child Labour), and the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Economic exploitation does not include work done by children in schools for general, vocational, or technical education or in other training institutions.
b. Businesses shall not employ any person under the age of 18 in any type of work that by its nature or circumstances is carried out in a way likely to jeopardize the health, safety, or morals of young persons.
c. Businesses may employ persons ages 13 to 15 years in light work if national laws or regulations permit. Light work is defined as work which is not likely to be harmful to the health or development of the child, and will not prejudice the school attendance, participation in vocational orientation, or training programmes approved by competent authority or the child's capacity to benefit from the instruction received.
d. Businesses using child labour must create and implement a plan to eliminate child labour. Such a plan should assess what will happen to the children who are no longer employed in the company and include measures such as withdrawing children from the workplace in tandem with the provision of suitable opportunities for schooling, vocational training, and other social protection for the children and their families, for example, by employing the parents or older siblings, or is otherwise consistent with ILO Recommendations 146 and 190.
8. Businesses enterprises shall provide a safe and healthy working environment.
a. Businesses shall provide a safe and healthy working environment in accordance with the national requirements of the countries in which they are located and with international standards such as those found in ILO Conventions 115 (Radiation Protection Convention), 119 (Guarding of Machinery Convention), 120 (Hygiene (Commerce and Offices)), 127 (Maximum Weight Convention), 136 (Benzene Convention), 139 (Occupational Cancer), 148 (Working Environment (Air Pollution, Noise and Vibration) Convention), 155 (Occupational Safety and Health Convention), 161 (Occupational Health Services Convention), 162 (Asbestos Convention), 167 (Safety in Construction Convention), 170 (Chemicals Convention), 174 (Prevention of Major Industrial Accidents Convention), 176 (Safety and Health in Mines Convention), and other relevant recommendations, as well as ensuring their application under ILO Conventions 81 (Labour Inspection Convention), 129 (Agriculture Labour Inspection Convention), 135 (Workers' Representatives Convention), and their successor conventions. Such a safe and healthy work environment shall aid in the prevention of accidents and injuries arising out of, linked with, or occurring within the course of work.
b. Businesses shall make information about the health and safety standards relevant to their local activities available to their workers in the local language and in both written and oral form. The information shall also include arrangements for training in safe working practices and details on the effects of all substances used in manufacturing processes. In particular, businesses shall make known any special hazards that tasks or conditions of work involve and the related measures available to protect the workers.
c. Businesses shall provide, where necessary, measures to deal with emergencies and accidents, including first-aid arrangements. Businesses also shall provide at their expense personal protective clothing and equipment when necessary. Businesses shall incur all expenses for occupational health and safety measures.
d. Businesses shall consult and cooperate fully with health and safety authorities, workers' representatives and their organizations, and established safety and health organizations on matters of occupational health and safety. Businesses shall examine the causes of safety and health hazards in their industry and work to implement improvements and solutions to those conditions, including the provision of safe equipment at least consistent with industry standards. Business enterprises shall monitor the working environment and the health of workers liable to exposure to specified hazards and risks. Businesses shall investigate work-related accidents and keep records of all such incidents stating their cause and remedial measures taken to prevent similar accidents.
e. Businesses shall also respect (1) the right of workers to remove themselves from work situations in which there is a reasonable basis to be concerned about present, imminent, and serious danger to life or health; (2) not subject them to consequences as a result; and further (3) not require them to return to work situations as long as the condition continues.
f. Businesses shall not require any worker to work more than 48 hours per week. Voluntary overtime for workers should not exceed 12 hours per week and should not be demanded on a regular basis. Compensation for such overtime should be at a rate higher than the normal rate. Each worker should be given at least one day off in every seven-day period. These protections may be adjusted to meet the different needs of management personnel and professionals who have clearly indicated their personal desire to work more hours.
9. Businesses enterprises shall compensate workers with remuneration that ensures a lifestyle worthy of human existence for workers and their families in the context of their circumstances. These circumstances shall take due account of their needs and decent living conditions as well as national practices and conditions, including the general level of wages, the cost of living, the relative standards of other social groups, and relevant economic factors, and with a view towards progressive improvement.
a. Businesses shall compensate workers for work done or to be done with fair and reasonable remuneration, freely agreed upon or fixed by national laws or regulations, payable regularly and at short intervals in legal tender, adequate to ensure decent living conditions to workers and their families, and in a manner consistent with ILO Convention 95 (Protection of Wages).
b. Businesses shall not deduct from a worker's wages already earned for disciplinary measures; nor shall any deduction from wages be permitted under conditions or to an extent other than prescribed by national laws or regulations, or fixed by collective agreement or arbitration award.
c. Business enterprises shall keep detailed written records on each worker's hours of work and wages paid. Workers shall be informed in an appropriate and easily understandable manner before they enter employment and when any changes take place as to the conditions in respect of wages, salaries, and additional emoluments under which they are employed. At the time of each payment of wages, workers shall receive a wage statement informing them of such particulars relating to the pay period concerned as the gross amount of wages earned, any deduction which may have been made including the reasons therefore, and the net amount of wages due.
d. Businesses shall not limit in any manner the freedom of workers to dispose of their wages; nor shall they exert any coercion on workers to make use of company stores or services, where such stores exist. In cases in which the partial payment of wages in the form of allowances in kind is authorized by national laws or regulations, collective agreements, or arbitration awards, businesses shall ensure that such allowances are appropriate for the personal use and benefit of workers and their families and that the value attributed to such allowances is fair and reasonable.
e. In determining a wage policy and rates of remuneration, businesses shall ensure the application of the principle of equal remuneration for men and women workers for work of equal value and the principle of equality of opportunity and treatment in respect of employment and occupation, in accordance with ILO Convention 120 (Equal Remuneration) and 111 (Employment and Occupation).
10. Businesses shall ensure the freedom of association and effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining by protecting workers and employers' right to establish and, subject only to the rules of the organization concerned, to join organizations of their own choosing without distinction, previous authorization, or interference, for the protection of their employment interests and for other collective bargaining purposes.
a. Business shall recognize workers' and employers' freedom of association consistent with ILO Convention 87 (Freedom of Association) and other international human rights law. Businesses shall recognize the rights of workers' organizations to draw up their constitutions and rules, to elect their representatives, to organize their administration and activities, and to formulate their programmes. Businesses shall refrain from discriminating against workers by reason of trade union membership or participation in trade union activities, and shall further refrain from any interference that restricts these rights or impedes their lawful exercise.
b. Businesses shall recognize workers' organizations for the purpose of collective bargaining consistent with ILO Convention 98 (Right to Collective Bargaining) and other international human rights law. Business enterprises shall respect the right of workers to submit grievances, including grievances as to compliance with these Principles, to fair and impartial persons who have the authority to redress any abuses found; and to be protected from suffering prejudice for using those procedures.
c. Businesses shall enable representatives of their workers to conduct negotiations on their terms and conditions of employment with representatives of management who are authorized to make decisions about the issues under negotiation. Businesses shall further give workers and their representatives access to information, facilities, and other resources, as consistent with ILO Convention 135 and Recommendation 129 (Workers' Representatives Convention) that are relevant and necessary for their representatives to conduct negotiation effectively without unnecessary harm to legitimate employer interests.
d. Businesses enterprises shall abide by provisions in collective agreements that provide for the settlement of disputes arising over their interpretation and application and also by decisions of tribunals or other mechanisms empowered to make determinations on such matters. Businesses shall ensure that the existence of workers' representatives does not undermine the position of the union, and that workers' representatives are entitled to bargain collectively only where there is no union in the company.
e. Business enterprises shall take particular care to protect the rights of workers as to such procedures in countries that do not fully implement international standards regarding the freedom of association, the right to organize, and the right to bargain collectively.
E. Respect for National Sovereignty and Local Communities
11. Business enterprises shall recognize and respect applicable international law; national laws; regulations; administrative practices; the rule of law; development objectives; social, economic, and cultural policies; and authority of the countries in which the businesses operate, in so far as they do not conflict with international human rights standards.
a. Business enterprises, within the limits of their resources and capabilities, shall endeavour in the conduct of their business operations to encourage social progress and development by expanding economic opportunities - particularly in developing countries and most importantly in the least developed countries.
b. Businesses shall respect the right to development in which all peoples are entitled to participate in, contribute to, and enjoy economic, social, cultural, and political development, in which all human rights and fundamental freedoms can be fully realized and in which sustainable development can be achieved so as to protect the rights of future generations.
c. Business enterprises shall respect the rights of local communities affected by their activities. Businesses shall particularly respect the rights of indigenous peoples and similar communities to own, occupy, develop, control, protect, and use their lands, other natural resources, and cultural and intellectual property. Indigenous peoples and communities may not be deprived of their own means of subsistence. Businesses should avoid endangering the health, environment, culture, and institutions of indigenous peoples and communities in the context of projects, including road building in or near indigenous peoples and communities. Business enterprises shall use particular care in situations in which indigenous lands, resources, or rights thereto have not been adequately demarcated or defined. Businesses shall assess the social and environmental impact of exploration or exploitation of natural resources on lands traditionally occupied by indigenous and tribal peoples, and take measures, with the participation of the peoples concerned, to minimize any damage that these communities may incur and to compensate them in case damages are suffered.
d. Business enterprises shall protect and enforce intellectual property rights in a manner that contributes to the promotion of technological innovation and to the transfer and dissemination of technology, to the mutual advantage of producers and users of technological knowledge in a manner conducive to social and economic welfare, and to a balance of rights and obligations.
12. Business enterprises shall not offer, promise, give, accept, or demand a bribe or other improper advantage, nor shall they be solicited or expected to give a bribe or other improper advantage to any government, government official, or candidate for elective post.
a. Businesses shall enhance the transparency of their activities in this regard; openly fight against bribery, extortion, and other forms of corruption; and cooperate with state authorities responsible for combating corruption.
13. Businesses shall respect the rights to health, adequate food, and adequate housing, and refrain from actions that obstruct the realization of those rights. Businesses shall also respect other economic, social, and cultural rights, including but not limited to, the rights to education, rest and leisure, and participation in the cultural life of the community and refrain from actions that obstruct the realization of those rights.
a. Businesses shall observe standards that promote the availability, accessibility, acceptability, and quality of the right to health as identified in Article 12 of the Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and the General Comment on the right to the highest attainable standard of health. (1)
b. Business enterprises shall observe standards which promote the availability of food in a quantity and quality sufficient to satisfy the dietary needs of individuals, free from adverse substances, acceptable within a given culture, accessible in ways that are sustainable and do not interfere with the enjoyment of other human rights, and otherwise in accordance with Article 11 of the Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and the General Comment on the right to adequate food. (2)
c. Businesses shall further observe standards which protect the right to adequate housing and are otherwise in accordance with Article 11 of the Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and the General Comment on the right to adequate housing. (3) Business enterprises shall not forcibly evict individuals, families, and/or communities against their will from their homes and/or land which they occupy, without the provision of, and access to, appropriate forms of legal or other protection pursuant to international human rights law.
d. Businesses enterprises shall observe standards that protect other economic, social and cultural rights and are otherwise in accordance with the Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and the relevant General Comments.
e. In making siting decisions - particularly as to larger tracts of land - and decisions to depart from a community, businesses shall assess the foreseeable consequences of their activities as to displacing people from their habitats and shelter, upsetting food security, diminishing health care, and decreasing the availability of education.
14. Business enterprises shall respect other civil and political rights, such as freedom of movement; freedom of thought, conscience, and religion; and freedom of opinion and expression; and refrain from actions which obstruct the realization of those rights.
a. Businesses shall observe standards that protect civil and political rights and are otherwise in accordance with the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the relevant General Comments.
F. Obligations with regard to Consumer Protection
15. Business enterprises shall act in accordance with fair business, marketing, and advertising practices and should take all reasonable steps to ensure the safety and quality of the goods and services they provide.
a. Business enterprises shall adhere to relevant international standards so as to avoid variations in the quality of products that would have detrimental effects on consumers, especially in states lacking specific regulations on product quality.
b. Businesses shall disclose to the public all appropriate information on the contents and possible hazardous effects of the products they produce through proper labeling, informative and accurate advertising, and other appropriate methods. In particular, they shall warn if death or serious injury is probable from a defect, use, or misuse.
c. Businesses shall supply appropriate information to the relevant authorities regarding the characteristics of products or services that may cause injury to the health and safety of consumers, workers, or others as well as restrictions, warnings, and other regulatory measures imposed by several countries on the grounds of health and safety protection as to these products or services.
G. Obligations with regard to Environmental Protection
16. Business enterprises shall carry out their activities in accordance with national laws, regulations, administrative practices, and policies relating to the preservation of the environment of the countries in which they operate and with due regard to relevant international agreements, principles, objectives, and standards with regard to the environment as well as human rights; shall take due account of the need to protect the environment, public health, and safety; and shall generally conduct their activities in a manner contributing to the wider goal of sustainable development.
a. Businesses shall respect the right to a clean and healthy environment in light of the relationship between environment and human rights; concerns for inter-generational equity; and internationally recognized environmental standards, for example, with regard to air pollution, water pollution, land use, biodiversity, and hazardous wastes.
b. Business enterprises shall be responsible for the environmental and human health impact of all of their activities, including any products or services they introduce into commerce, including packaging, transportation, and by-products of the manufacturing process.
c. In decision-making processes, businesses shall assess the impact of their activities on the environment and human health including impacts from siting decisions; natural resource extraction activities; the production and sale of products or services; and the generation, storage, transport, and disposal of hazardous and toxic substances. Businesses shall ensure that the burden of negative environmental consequences shall not disproportionately fall on vulnerable racial, ethnic, and socio-economic groups.
d. Businesses shall undertake environmental and social assessments on a periodic basis (preferably annually or biannually). Assessments shall, interalia, address particularly the impact of proposed activities on certain groups, such as children, older persons, indigenous peoples, and/or women. Business enterprises shall distribute such reports in a timely manner and in a manner that is accessible to the United Nations Environmental Programme, the International Labour Organization, other interested international bodies, the national government hosting each company, the national government where the company maintains its principal office, and other affected groups. The reports should be accessible to the general public.
e. Business enterprises shall respect the prevention principle, for example, by preventing and/or mitigating deleterious impacts identified in any assessment. Business enterprises shall respect the precautionary principle, which indicates, for example, that when preliminary risk assessments indicate unacceptable effects on health or the environment, businesses shall not use the lack of full scientific certainty as a reason to delay the introduction of cost-effective measures intended to prevent such effects. Businesses should consider any reactions from stakeholders in endeavouring to prevent environmental and human rights consequences.
f. Upon the expiration of the useful life of their products or services, business enterprises shall be responsible for collecting or arranging for the collection of the remains of the product or services for recycling, re-use, and/or environmentally acceptable disposal.
g. Business enterprises shall take appropriate measures in their activities to reduce the risk of accidents and damage to the environment by adopting best management practices and technologies. In particular, businesses shall use best management practices and appropriate technologies and enable their component entities to meet these environmental objectives through the sharing of technology, knowledge, and assistance, as well as through environmental management systems and sustainability reporting. In addition, they shall educate and train workers to ensure their compliance with these objectives.
H. General Provisions of Implementation
17. Business enterprises shall be subject to verification of compliance with these Principles in a manner that is independent, transparent, and includes input from relevant stakeholders.
a. The Principles shall be implemented by amplifying and interpreting intergovernmental, regional, national, and local standards with regard to the conduct of business enterprises. Governments shall use the Principles as a model for legislation or administrative provisions with regard to the activities of each enterprise doing business in their country, including through the use of labour inspections. In the context of national law, courts should refer to the Principles, for example, in assessing whether a business has provided consumers or investors adequate information about their products and services or whether a business might be subject to liability for injuries caused by businesses and their officers.
b. United Nations human rights treaty bodies should use the Principles in the creation of additional reporting requirements by States and general comments to interpret treaty obligations. The U.N. and its specialized agencies should use the Principles as the basis for procurement determinations as to which products and services to purchase and with which businesses to develop partnerships in the field. Country rapporteurs or thematic procedures of the U.N. Commission on Human Rights should use the Principles and other relevant international standards for raising concerns about actions by business enterprises within their respective mandates. The Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights and its relevant Working Group should also monitor compliance with the Principles by receiving information from NGOs or interested individuals and then by allowing business enterprises an opportunity to respond.
c. Trade unions may use the Principles as a basis for negotiating agreements with businesses and monitoring compliance of businesses. NGOs may also use the Principles as the basis for their expectations of business conduct and monitoring compliance. Further, the Principles could be used as a standard for promoting ethical investment initiatives. The Principles shall also be implemented through industry groups and within the company itself.
d. Business enterprises shall provide legitimate and confidential avenues through which workers can file complaints with regard to such issues. To the extent possible, businesses shall make known to the complainant any actions taken as a result of the investigation. Business enterprises shall not discipline or take other action against workers or others who submit complaints or assert that any company has failed to comply with these Principles.
e. Business enterprises receiving claims of violations of these Principles shall make a record of each claim and obtain an independent investigation of the claim or call upon other proper authorities. Business enterprises shall actively monitor the status of investigations and press for their full resolution.
f. Businesses shall also endeavour to assure such monitoring of their suppliers to the extent possible.
g. Businesses enterprises shall endeavor to ensure the monitoring process is transparent, for example, by making available to relevant stakeholders the workplaces observed, remediation efforts undertaken, and other results of monitoring. Businesses shall further ensure that any monitoring seeks to obtain and incorporate input from relevant stakeholders.
h. Businesses shall further enhance the transparency of their activities by disclosing timely, relevant, regular, and reliable information regarding their activities, structure, financial situation, and performance. Business enterprises shall also make known the location of their offices, subsidiaries, and factories, so as to facilitate measures to assure that the businesses' products and services are being produced under conditions that respect these Principles.
18. In order to comply with the above principles, each company shall adopt, disseminate, and implement its own code of conduct or shall take other adequate measures to afford at least the protections set forth in these Principles.
a. Each company shall disseminate its code of conduct or similar measures, as well as implementation procedures, and make them available to all relevant stakeholders. The company code of conduct or similar measures shall be communicated in oral and written form in the language of workers, trade unions, contractors, suppliers, customers, and other stakeholders of the company.
b. Once a company's code of conduct or similar measures have been adopted and disseminated, businesses shall - to the extent of their resources and capabilities - provide effective training for their managers as well as workers and their representatives in company practices relevant to the Principles.
c. Businesses enterprises shall endeavour to assure that they only purchase products and services from contractors, subcontractors, suppliers, and licensees who follow these or substantially similar Principles. Businesses using suppliers that do not meet the Principles should take all necessary steps to reform or decrease these violations and if a supplier will not change, the business should cease doing business with the supplier.
d. Each business shall take adequate measures to afford at least the protections set forth in these Principles and shall endeavour to improve continually its further implementation of these Principles
e. Business enterprises shall inform in a timely manner everyone who may be affected by conditions caused by the company that might endanger health, safety, or the environment.
f. Business enterprises shall provide adequate reparation to those persons who have been adversely affected by restoring, replacing, or otherwise compensating for any damage done or property taken.
19. Business enterprises shall assess their major activities to determine their human rights impact in light of these Principles and such assessments shall be subject to verification in a manner that is independent, transparent, and includes input from relevant stakeholders.
a. Each company shall engage in an annual or other periodic assessment of its compliance with the Principles taking into account comments from stakeholders. The results of the assessment shall be made available to stakeholders to the same extent as the company's annual report.
b. Assessments revealing inadequate compliance with the Principles shall also include plans of action or methods of redress a company will pursue in order to fulfill the Principles.
c. Before a company pursues a major initiative or project, it shall, to the extent of its resources and capabilities, study the human rights impact of that project in light of these Principles. The impact statement shall include a description of the action, its need, anticipated benefits, an analysis of any human rights impact related to the action, an analysis of reasonable alternatives to the action, and identification of ways to reduce any negative human rights consequences. A company shall make available the results of that study to relevant stakeholders, and shall consider any reactions from stakeholders.
d. Before entering into new business relationships, businesses shall assess the compliance of these potential business partners with the standards set forth in these Principles and refrain from engaging in business relationships with those businesses which fail to meet the standards in these Principles.
20. Nothing in the present Principles shall be interpreted as restricting or adversely affecting more protective human rights standards recognized in international law, national or state law, or already recognized by the activities of business enterprises.
a. This savings clause is intended to assure that business enterprises will pursue the
course of conduct that is the most protective of human rights - whether found in these Principles or in other relevant sources. If more protective standards are recognized in international or state law or in industry or business practices, those more protective standards shall be pursued. This savings clause is styled after similar savings clauses found in such instruments as the Convention on the Rights of the Child, Art. 41.
b. Businesses are encouraged to express their own commitment to respecting, ensuring respect for, preventing abuses of, and promoting internationally recognized human rights by adopting their own human rights codes of conduct which contain standards even more conducive to the promotion and protection of human rights than those contained in these Principles.
21. The term "business enterprise" or "business" includes any business entity, regardless of the international or domestic nature of its activities, including a transnational corporation; the corporate, partnership, or other legal form used to establish the business entity; and the nature of the ownership of the entity, including any privately-owned or government-owned entity.
22. The term "stakeholder" includes stockholders, other owners, workers, and their representatives, as well as any other individual or group that is affected by the activities of the company.
a. The term "stakeholder" should be interpreted functionally in light of the objectives of these Principles and include indirect stakeholders when their interests are or will be substantially affected by the activities of the company. In addition to parties directly affected by the activities of business enterprises, stakeholders can include parties which are indirectly affected by the activities of businesses such as consumer groups, customers, governments, neighboring communities, NGOs, public and private lending institutions, suppliers, trade associations, and others.
b. The terms "contractor," "subcontractor," "supplier," and "licensee" includes any natural or legal person who contracts with the company to accomplish the company's activities.
c. The phrases "internationally recognized human rights" and "international human rights" include economic, social, and cultural rights; and civil and political rights as guaranteed by the International Bill of Human Rights (4) and the other human rights treaties, as well as rights guaranteed by international humanitarian law, international refugee law, international labour law, ILO Conventions and Recommendations, and other relevant instruments promulgated by the United Nations.
1. Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, General Comment 14, The right to the highest attainable standard of health (Art. 12), U.N. Doc. E/C.12/2000/4 (2000).
2. Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, General Comment 12, Right to adequate food (Art. 11), U.N. Doc. E/C.12/1999/5 (1999).
3. Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, General Comment 4, The right to adequate housing (Art. 11 (1) of the Covenant) (Sixth session, 1991), Compilation of General Comments and General Recommendations Adopted by Human Rights Treaty Bodies, U.N. Doc. HRI\GEN\1\Rev.1 at 53 (1994).
4. The International Bill of Human Rights includes the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights; the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights; and the optional protocols to the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
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