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21 Sep 2021

Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)

In Memory of John G. Ruggie: Tribute by OHCHR

Press briefing notes: Tribute to John Ruggie

Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: Marta Hurtado

Location: Geneva

Date: 21 September 2021

We would like to express our deep sadness at the news that John Ruggie, whose drive and commitment were central to the development of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, died on 16 September at the age of 76.

It is difficult to overstate the impact of John Ruggie's life and work.

As the first Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Business and Human Rights, Ruggie travelled the world, engaging stakeholders from all walks of life, researching and advocating for new ways of thinking and working to prevent and mitigate human rights risks related to business.

For Ruggie, it was essential that societies were able to identify, manage and, as far as possible, prevent adverse effects of business practices on people's lives. The UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights were his response; his blueprint for how things should - and could - be.

The Guiding Principles are firmly anchored in international human rights norms and standards and guided by an approach Ruggie famously termed "Principled Pragmatism". They provide a clear and common framework for addressing risks to human rights and contributing to a more equitable and sustainable global economy.

The High Commissioner met John Ruggie when she was President of Chile, experiencing first hand his commitment to making a difference to people's daily lives – a commitment that earned him the respect and admiration of many. She told him then that he would always be remembered for setting a high bar for addressing corporate abuses and upholding the human rights of all.

Despite the unquestionable progress over the past 10 years, much remains to be done to fulfil Ruggie's vision of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.

All of us engaged in human rights work can honour his memory by helping to make his vision reality and continuing to work for the effective implementation of the Guiding Principles everywhere.