Call for inputs: UNWG report re ensuring respect for human rights in the context of “economic diplomacy” & investment/trade promotion

As part of its ongoing focus on the need for States to safeguard human rights in the context of their roles as economic actors, the Working Group is examining the leverage of States to promote corporate respect for human rights through their trade and investment promotion activities. The Working Group is inviting all interested parties to provide input on this topic, which will be the focus of  its annual report to the Human Rights Council in June 2018.

Deadline: 12 March 2018. Inputs should be sent to [email protected] with subject line “Survey inputs: state-business nexus”

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Article
20 March 2018

UK: CORE & Amnesty Int'l UK highlight shortcomings re export promotion & human rights in submission to UN Working Group

Author: CORE Coalition & Amnesty International UK

"CORE Coalition and Amnesty International UK joint submission to the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights: ensuring respect for human rights in the context of "economic diplomacy" and investment/trade promotion," 14 March 2018

UK Export Finance’s (UKEF) policy is only to "take account" of non-financial risks, including environmental, social and human rights risks. This is considerably weaker than imposing a requirement on businesses... The UNGPs are therefore not considered by UKEF as a benchmark for assessing companies’ eligibility to receive government support unless this is mandated by the OECD Common Approaches or by the Equator Principles... Export promotion is undertaken in the UK with little regard for human rights. Each year the UK government produces a Human Rights and Democracy report which cites a number of countries which pose specific human rights concerns... [yet] the UK... identifies a number of priority markets for the promotion of defence and security sales. In 2016, the government identified three countries cited in the Human rights and Democracy report – Bahrain, Colombia and Saudi Arabia as priority markets for business engagement within the defence and security sector.

... There is no evidence of any direct consequences for any companies that have been subject to complaints, not even in the few cases where such companies have been found to be in breach of the OECD Guidelines. If the NCP investigates a complaint and finds that a company has breached the OECD Guidelines, it will issue a Final Statement, which may include a recommendation that the business should take certain actions to comply with the Guidelines in the future. The NCP has no powers to enforce its findings, to ensure compliance or to require a company to provide remediation to those adversely affected by the activities that are the subject of the complaint.

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Article
16 February 2018

Open call for inputs to UN Working Group report

Author: UN Working Group on business & human rights

In order to inform its work on the leverage of States to promote corporate respect for human rights through their trade and investment promotion activities, the Working Group is inviting all interested parties to provide inputs. The questions [available via the link] provide a guide for structuring inputs, but the Working Group is also welcoming inputs on other relevant aspects. Deadline: 12 March 2018. Inputs should be sent to [email protected] with subject line “Survey inputs: state-business nexus”

... [Questions include:]

1. Are there examples of ministries oriented to cross border trade and investment promotion that have any policy commitment to address human rights as part of their activities? If yes, does such a commitment include any reference of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and other standards for responsible business conduct (e.g. OECD Guidelines; IFC Performance Standards)?

2.  Are there examples of trade/business oriented ministries and agencies that have required businesses to demonstrate respect for human rights as set out in the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights as a condition of receiving government support through export credit, investment guarantees, and political risk insurance? If yes, how was this implemented?

... 7. Are there examples of laws, regulations, policies and procedures in place for special economic zones/export processing zones that also include provisions for ensuring that businesses operating in those zones respect the human rights of workers and other people/communities who may be impacted by their activities? 

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Article
16 February 2018

The State as an economic actor and human rights

Author: UN Working Group on business & human rights

The UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights clarify that all States are expected to ensure protection of and respect human rights in their role as economic actors.  This aspect of the State duty to protect human rights – the “State-business nexus” – covers policy areas such as management of State-owned enterprises, export credit, official investment insurance, and public procurement.

... During 2018 the Working Group is examining the leverage of States to promote corporate respect for human rights through its trade and investment promotion activities. As such, the Working Group seeks to identify good practice models of integrating corporate respect for human rights in:

  • the use of “economic and trade diplomacy tools” and incentives for business such as export credit, investment guarantees, export promotion, trade advocacy and participation in trade missions; and
  • trade and investment promotion in the context of export processing zones.

The Working Group aims to develop practical recommendations for States and international and regional organizations relating to these policy areas to be presented in its report to the Human Rights Council in June 2018. To gather information about good practice models and inform recommendations, the Working Group is currently seeking inputs from all relevant parties. Click here to access more information about this open call for inputs (deadline 12 March 2018).

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