Implementing the UN Guiding Principles: questions for the UK government

Author: Katherine Tyler in Lawyers for Better Business, Published on: 21 November 2011

The actual impact of the GPs [Guiding Principles for Business and Human Rights] is unclear and on 15–16 September 2011 over 100 lawyers, academics, students and representatives from businesses, NGOs, the OECD, the EU...gathered at a conference in London to discuss implementing the UN Guiding Principles. What was particularly noticeable was that...there were no representatives from the UK government at the conference...[H]ow far does the state responsibility to protect extend? What does it include? Does it impose an investigative obligation on states? If the UK government had been represented at the conference there might have been an indication whether they even recognise the existence of a state duty to protect, in the terms outlined in the GPs. However, with this question unanswered, the pressing issue of whether the UK government will or will not implement the GPs could not properly form part of the debate...Just as the absence of any representative from the UK government limited discussion of whether the GPs will be implemented so too did it limit the discussion of how they could be implemented.

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