NGOs criticise UN Special Representative Ruggie's draft Guiding Principles on business & human rights

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Article
7 February 2011

Let AI and HRW hold out the promise to rights victims [same letter as "Response to letter by Arvind Ganesan, Human Rights Watch to Financial Times re draft Guiding Principles"]

Author: John Ruggie, UN Special Representative for Business and Human Rights, in letter to Financial Times

While AI and others have been busy writing letters justifying their indefensible advice to the UN Human Rights Council, Amnesty UK has been busy “urging” the UK Commons Select Committee on Business, Innovation and Skills to adopt the very proposals that Amnesty’s International Secretariat finds so inadequate...AI-UK clearly believes that policy is an important instrument for inducing change in the behavior of corporates. In contrast, the AI-Secretariat and Human Rights Watch reiterate their belief that only a binding international treaty will do...My aim, as I have stated explicitly from the beginning, is to reduce corporate related human rights harm to the maximum extent possible in the shortest possible period of time.

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Article
28 January 2011

[PDF] [Response to letter by Arvind Ganesan, Human Rights Watch to Financial Times re draft Guiding Principles]

Author: John Ruggie, UN Special Representative for Business and Human Rights

While AI and others have been busy writing letters justifying their indefensible advice to the UN Human Rights Council, Amnesty UK has been busy “urging” the UK Commons Select Committee on Business, Innovation and Skills to adopt the very proposals that Amnesty’s International Secretariat finds so inadequate...AI-UK clearly believes that policy is an important instrument for inducing change in the behavior of corporates. In contrast, the AI-Secretariat and Human Rights Watch reiterate their belief that only a binding international treaty will do...My aim, as I have stated explicitly from the beginning, is to reduce corporate related human rights harm to the maximum extent possible in the shortest possible period of time.

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Article
25 January 2011

[DOC] Commentary regarding joint civil society statement on draft Guiding Principles on business & human rights

Author: Stéphane Brabant, Herbert Smith LLP, posted to Transnational Dispute Management Journal’s OGEMID mailing list

The Financial Times last week reported that Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and five other pressure groups have indicated they would oppose the adoption next June by the UN Human Rights Council of the final draft recommendations on business and human rights from Professor John Ruggie...In recommending that the principles should not be adopted...Amnesty International and others run the risk that there would be nothing equivalent (or at least not for some time), despite the willingness from companies to act now and agree for certain principles and guidelines of Human Rights' international (soft) law to apply. It is important that the international business community is given the opportunity to reflect on Amnesty International's proposal and its potential effects...

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Article
20 January 2011

Business groups spurred to improve complaints systems

Author: Sir Mark Moody-Stuart, Vice Chairman, UN Global Compact Board

Sir, John Ruggie (Letters, January 19) is absolutely correct in his response to Amnesty International’s criticism of the United Nations “protect, respect, remedy” framework for business and human rights which he developed after an extremely thorough and wide-ranging consultation process. As a result of Prof Ruggie building imaginatively on this consultation process the framework is indeed widely supported by business and civil society. It is already having an impact. Through the guidance in the framework companies are improving their initial appraisals of the likely impact of their operations – the “respect” part of the framework. Even more importantly in my view, companies are already developing the communication and complaints mechanisms for addressing problems as they occur – the “remedy” part, which catches community issues at an early stage before they blow up into major confrontations often involving security forces with almost inevitable detrimental effects.

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Article
20 January 2011

Stronger UN draft on human rights abuses needed

Author: Widney Brown, Senior Director for International Law and Policy, Amnesty International

Sir, John Ruggie’s letter (January 19) in response to Hugh Williamson’s article “Amnesty criticises UN framework for multinationals” (January 17) is surprising on several counts...Let’s be frank – the real opposition to effective guiding principles does not come from Amnesty International but from business interests. The draft guiding principles enjoy broad support from business, precisely because they require little meaningful action by business. Prof Ruggie has acknowledged that governments often fail to regulate companies effectively, and that companies working in many countries evade accountability and proper sanctions when they commit human rights abuses. The fundamental challenge was how to address these problems. His draft guiding principles fail to meet this challenge. Amnesty International believes they must be strengthened. We have offered constructive advice, based on years of investigative experience, to help the process. We will continue to do so.

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Article
20 January 2011

[PDF] Response to Financial Times article and Professor Ruggie's response letter

Author: International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH)

Sir, The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) is surprised by your interpretation of the NGOs' joint statement co-signed by FIDH on the draft Guiding Principles as well as Professor Ruggie's response to your article. While you do point out some of the critical areas FIDH considers should be addressed by Professor Ruggie in the draft Guiding Principles under consultation, the intention that is lent to our statement has been distorted.

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Article
17 January 2011

Rights groups slam UN plan for multinationals

Author: Hugh Williamson, Financial Times

Controversial new standards governing the operation of multinational companies in developing countries and conflict zones could undermine rather than reinforce efforts to protect human rights if the framework is adopted in its current form, according to leading rights groups. The standards, drawn up by John Ruggie, United Nations special representative for business and human rights, are designed as global benchmarks guiding companies towards protecting employees, local communities and the environment, and ending high-profile cases of corporate abuses...The UN’s Human Rights Council is expected to adopt the closely watched framework in June...However, in a strongly-worded statement Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and five other pressure groups argue the current draft should not be adopted by the HRC because it fails to outline clearly enough how governments should regulate business activity, and how companies should avoid abusing human rights...A strong stance by such respected human rights groups could influence the position of some HRC members, observers said. [refers to Cerrejón Coal (joint venture Anglo American, BHP Billiton, Xstrata), HP, Tesco]

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Article
17 January 2011

[PDF] [Letter to the Editor, Financial Times, in response to article on NGO criticism of draft Guiding Principles on business & human rights]

Author: John Ruggie, UN Special Representative for Business and Human Rights

Hugh Williamson reports (17 January 2011) that Amnesty and some other pressure groups fear that adoption of a proposed set of guiding principles for implementing the UN “Protect, Respect and Remedy” framework in the area of business and human rights “risk undermining efforts to strengthen corporate responsibility,” and that “the current draft should not be adopted by the Human Rights Council.”...First, these same organizations keep telling the world that there currently are no global standards in the area of business and human rights...Second, these same organizations use the UN framework constantly...Third, Amnesty and the others would have a lot to answer for if they actually were to oppose Human Rights Council endorsement of this hard-won initiative.

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Article
14 January 2011

[PDF] Joint Civil Society Statement on the draft Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights

Author: Amnesty International, CIDSE, ESCR-Net, Human Rights Watch, International Commission of Jurists, International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), Rights and Accountability in Development (RAID)

This civil society statement identifies critical areas in the current draft of the Guiding Principles released on 22 November 2010 that need revision or further elaboration. Unless addressed, these gaps will prevent the Guiding Principles from effectively advancing corporate responsibility and accountability for human rights and so may fail to gain widespread acceptance by civil society. The current draft of the Guiding Principles does not provide sufficient guidance to States and business to close the governance gaps identified by the SRSG as the root cause of the business and human rights predicament today.

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