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B-Tech foundational paper | An introduction to the UN Guiding Principles in the age of technology

The United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs) offer a principled and pragmatic approach for ensuring that the world’s technological advances are grounded in respect and dignity for all. The UNGPs carry the legitimacy and strength of being the global framework focused on corporate responsibility and accountability for business-related human rights impacts.

A decade ago, the architect of the UNGPs articulated that “the root cause of the business and human rights predicament today lies in the governance gaps created by globalization—between the scope and impact of economic forces and actors, and the capacity of societies to manage their adverse consequences.” The parallels to the current nature and speed of technological development are clear, and we may already be seeing a lack of capacity of society to manage the adverse consequences of disruption.

... For entrepreneurs and executives in all parts of the tech industry, the UNGPs provide a roadmap for operationalising respect for human rights as part of how they do business, no matter the focus, size or complexity of the enterprise. The principles focus in equal measure on the imperative for States to adopt and enforce a smart-mix of rights-based public policy and legal measures to govern how new technologies are developed, deployed and used. The UNGPs provide guidance for what different actors need to do to deliver meaningful remedy to victims of business-related human rights harms.

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