Accountability and Remedy Project I: Enhancing effectiveness of judicial mechanisms in cases of business-related human rights abuse

Ensuring access to effective remedy for those impacted by business-related human rights abuses is one of the three pillars of the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, endorsed by the United Nations Human Rights Council in June 2011.

In 2014, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) launched an initiative to achieve more effective implementation of the Access to Remedy pillar of the UN Guiding Principles, with a focus on judicial mechanisms. The initiative, called the “Accountability and Remedy Project” (ARP I, for short), aimed to “make domestic legal responses fairer and more effective for victims of business-related human rights abuses, particularly in the most severe cases."

In May 2016, and in response to a mandate from the Human Rights Council, OHCHR submitted a final report (with an addendum) to the Human Rights Council on the ARP I, containing guidance for states on enhancing accountability and remedy. The guidance was developed through inclusive multi-stakeholder processes and based on extensive research, consultation and evidence gathering. It has been designed to take into account different legal systems, cultures, traditions and levels of economic development

To further support implementation of the guidance, OHCHR produced a paper containing illustrative examples of methods that States have used and steps that States have taken in practice that are relevant to different elements of the guidance and which have the potential to improve access to remedy in cases of business-related human rights abuses. The illustrative examples have been identified through the extensive data collection process underpinning the guidance and are included for illustration and learning purposes only. The paper is intended as a “live” document that will be updated on an ongoing basis to reflected further experiences and lessons learned.

The ARP I guidance complements other efforts and initiatives at the international, regional, and national levels aimed at enhancing accountability and remedy for human rights abuses by economic actors.

- Final report with Guidance and addendum
- Resolution from the Human Rights Council
- OHCHR paper: Illustrative examples for guidance to improve corporate accountability and access to judicial remedy for business-related human rights abuse
- Blog by Dr. Jennifer Zerk, lead legal consultant to the OHCHR Accountability and Remedy Project 

Continuing developments with ARP I

In its Resolution 32/10, the Human Rights Council requested the High Commissioner to continue work in this area and to convene two consultations involving representatives of States and other stakeholders. OHCHR convened these consultations in late 2017 with a view to further unpacking the policy objectives contained in the ARP I report and exploring certain areas that warranted closer attention.

The first consultation was held in Geneva in October 2017 and looked at the relationship between human rights due diligence (as described in the UNGPs) and determinations of corporate liability under national law for adverse human rights impacts arising from or connected with business activities. A report that was informed by the discussion at this consultation was submitted to the Human Rights Council at its 38th session (A/HRC/38/20/Add.2). More information can be found in the (1)overview of the consultation, and (2) concept note.

The second consultation was held during the UN Forum on Business and Human Rights in Geneva in November 2017. It focused on elements of criminal and administrative regimes that facilitate or hinder corporate accountability and access to remedy when companies are involved in human rights abuses. The consultation sought to explore strengths and weaknesses of different approaches and outline ways forward for states. More information about this consultation is available in the concept note.

For questions or comments relating to the Accountability and Remedy Project, please contact Ms. Lene Wendland at business-access2remedy [at] ohchr.org.