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Opening Statement by Michelle Bachelet, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights

[A]lthough more and more companies are recognizing their corporate responsibility to respect human rights – and are implementing human rights due diligence – we are still seeing unprincipled business practices, which continue to generate preventable human suffering; impede inclusive and sustainable development; and fuel inequalities. 

Many of the mass protests we have been seeing – in both developed and developing countries – arise from issues that you will be discussing over the next three days...

We are also seeing an increase in attacks and killings of human rights defenders...

Another emerging issue is connected to the digital revolution...

We need coherent policy and legislative action, as the Working Group has emphasised in its recent report to the General Assembly. Under international human rights law, States have an obligation to protect people against human rights abuse by business enterprises. The Guiding Principles clarify that to implement this duty, States should consider a "smart mix" of measures – national and international, mandatory and voluntary – to foster business respect for human rights...

Enlightened business leaders know that doing the right thing is also the smart thing to do...

Indeed, without businesses and responsible investors, it will be, quite simply, impossible to achieve the promise of the 2030 Agenda... But we need to count on both States and businesses...