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9 Feb 2017

Debevoise Business Integrity Group in collaboration with Enodo Rights (USA)

Practical Definitions of Cause, Contribute, and Directly Linked to Inform Business Respect for Human Rights

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Discussion Draft 

This discussion paper advances concrete and practical definitions of the involvement terms—cause, contribute, and directly linked—under the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises...and the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights...(together, “Guidance”). The Guidance sets forth non-binding principles and standards that are not designed to create or define legal liability for businesses. The Guidance provides an authoritative and comprehensive voluntary framework for businesses to respect human rights... The involvement terms are critical parameters of this framework: they shape the expected scope of due diligence and remedy under the Guidance. In particular, companies that cause an adverse human rights impact are expected to cease, prevent, and remedy the impact. Companies that contribute to an adverse human rights impact are expected to cease, prevent, and remedy the impact to the extent of their contribution... Unlike cause and contribute, however, directly linked involvement does not bring any expectation of remedy; companies directly linked to adverse human rights impacts are expected only to use or seek leverage to mitigate the adverse impact... A precise and shared understanding of the involvement terms is therefore essential to bring certainty to businesses and stakeholders alike regarding the scope of voluntary corporate commitments to respect human rights.