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B-Tech foundational paper | Taking action to address human rights risks related to end-use

The UN Guiding Principles on Business on Human Rights (UNGPs) were drafted to establish a global expectation of business conduct, with the goal of effectively embedding respect and dignity for all into how business gets done.

To this end, the UNGPs require a company to take positive and proactive steps to scrutinise andadapttheir own business practices. This extends to expecting companies influencing peers, business partners and others to act responsibly and with respect for all human rights. When it comes to companies in the technology sector, this focus on ensuringbusiness practices – including in design and engineering – are rights-respecting is critical for society, as well as sustained trust in the industry.

At the same time, the UNGPs offer technology companies and their stakeholders a principled and pragmatic approach to what should be expected of companies based on the nature of a company’s involvement with actual or potential adverse impacts on people. In short, where a technology company is causing or contributing to a harm – which can include situations when a third party is using that company's product or service to cause harm – the company should take action to stop or prevent this. Where a company’s technology product or service is linked to a harm through a business relationship, they should seek to influence the actions of the entity causing the harm.

Taking all reasonable steps to ensure that their activities – including product design, promotion, deployment, selling and licensing – do not contribute to human rights harms will often need to be a central focus of human rights due diligence for tech companies.

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