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23 Nov 2016

James Harrison, Lacuna Magazine

Commentary: UN Forum lacked discussion of detailed steps to implement human rights due diligence

"Human Rights and Business: Is the United Nations Helping?," Nov 2016

…The 5th UN Forum on Business and Human Rights takes place at the Palais Des Nations…Over the next 3 days, more than 60 workshops take place…There are many companies at the forum who talk about…human rights; from Apple to Coca Cola, from Nestlé to BP. But…I have no way of judging whose efforts are extensive, genuine, transformative…Can…UNGPs…help ensure that companies take their human rights obligations seriously?…At every session I attend, companies, states and UN actors mention [human rights due diligence]. But nowhere is practice discussed in any detail…No company is willing to share their methodology for undertaking human rights due diligence…At every session…UNGPs are continuously namechecked, but their actual impacts are never discussed…And so leaving the Forum, I wander through the atrium again…But my mind is no longer filled with hope…Instead I am worried that the UN may be prioritising the engagement of states and corporations over efforts to hold them to account, to ensure that they do something meaningful.