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Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe adopts resolution and recommendations on business & human rights

On 3 March 2016, the Committee of Ministers adopted Recommendation CM/Rec(2016)3 to member states on human rights and business. It was the Council’s first inter-governmental instrument on business and human rights and provides guidance to member States in preventing and remedying human rights abuses by business and calls for measures incentivising business respect for human rights. 

In November 2019, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe announced its position, and adopted Resolution 2311 (2019) on “Human rights and business – what follow-up to Committee of Ministers Recommendation CM/Rec(2016)3?”, along with recommendations to the Committee of Ministers, both available below.

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Article
29 November 2019

[RECOMMENDATION] Human rights and business – what follow-up to Committee of Ministers Recommendation CM/Rec(2016)3?

Author: Parliamentary Assembly

1. Referring to its Resolution 2311 (2019) on “Human rights and business – what follow-up to Committee of Ministers Recommendation CM/Rec(2016)3?”, the Parliamentary Assembly recommends that the Committee of Ministers:

  • take all necessary measures to ensure a wide dissemination of Recommendation CM/Rec(2016)3...;
  • examine the implementation of Recommendation CM/Rec(2016)3 as soon as possible...;
  • consider conducting further reviews of the implementation of Recommendation CM/Rec(2016)3 on a regular basis; ...
  • take all the necessary measures to make the CDDH’s Online Platform for Human Rights and Business operational without delay;
  • take all the necessary measures to encourage Council of Europe member States to adopt, review and/or update action plans on the implementation of United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGP)...;
  • step up the co-operation between the Council of Europe and other international organisations..., with a view to promoting consolidation of coherent standards on businesses’ responsibilities in the area of human rights...;
  • engage in the works of the United Nations open-ended intergovernmental working group on transnational corporations and other business enterprises with respect to human rights (OEIGWG) on a legally binding instrument on business activities and human rights;
  • consider revising Recommendation CM/Rec(2016)3 with a view to more explicitly covering gender-based human rights abuses and vulnerable population groups..., and referring to member States' obligations towards these groups...

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Item
29 November 2019

[RESOLUTION] Human rights and business – what follow-up to Committee of Ministers Recommendation CM/Rec(2016)3?

Author: Parliamentary Assembly

...6. The Assembly notes that only eighteen member States of the Council of Europe have adopted NAPs...

7. The Assembly welcomes the adoption of Committee of Ministers Recommendation CM/Rec(2016)3 on human rights and business on 2 March 2016 and stresses the importance of its role in encouraging member States of the Council of Europe to implement the UNGP at the regional level. It welcomes the fact that some Council of Europe member States – mainly European Union member States – have adopted comprehensive measures to implement this Recommendation, including legislative measures imposing a duty to implement human rights due diligence procedures in business enterprises.

8. The Assembly therefore urges Council of Europe member States to take all the necessary measures to implement the UNGP and Recommendation CM/Rec(2016)3 on human rights and business, and in particular to:

8.4. review their national legislation, practice and policies to ensure that they comply with the requirements stemming from these two instruments [the UNGP and Recommendation CM/Rec(2016)3]...

10. Moreover, the Assembly invites member States of the Council of Europe to support the adoption of a legally binding instrument on business activities and human rights...

 

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Article
2 July 2018

INGOs Conference of the Council of Europe now includes webpage on business & human rights

Author: Council of Europe

Recommendation CM/Rec(2016)3 of the Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers to member States on Human Rights and Business was adopted in March 2016...

Currently a draft text that is under consideration at the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly: “Businesses, especially trans- or multinational companies, have gained much power and influence... Businesses can benefit society and contribute to the realisation of human rights, including by providing employment and paying taxes. However, European businesses are also implicated in human rights violations, such as exploitative or hazardous working conditions, environmental pollution, employment discrimination and violations of employees’ right to privacy, namely via cyber-monitoring.”

With this page the INGO Conference wishes to support its own member organisations and encourages all readers to promote and implement the substance of the above Recommendations.

[T]he material below ... will help you in working for the implementation and accountability for Human Rights and Business...

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Article
20 July 2017

Council of Europe’s highlights corporate human rights abuses in Europe & urges review of implementation of UN Guiding Principles

Author: Council of Europe

...On 2 March 2016, the Committee of Ministers adopted Recommendation CM/Rec(2016)3 on human rights and business, which provides governments, businesses and other stakeholders with guidance on how to implement the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, as the currently globally agreed baseline in this field. The recommendation also calls on Council of Europe member States to share information on good practices and sets up a process of review of its implementation no later than five years after its adoption. In the meantime, the Assembly should take stock of the implementation of the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights in member States, examine ways of ensuring that the standards and principles reflected in CM/Rec(2016)3 are applied throughout Europe and engage with member States facing obstacles to implementation...

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Article
14 March 2016

Full recommendation

Author: Committee of Ministers, Council of Europe

"Committee of Ministers adopted Recommendation on human rights and business", 7 Mar 2016

Building on the 2011 UN Guiding Principles, the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe adopted Recommendation an rights and business, a text that provides more specific guidance to assist member States in preventing andCM/Rec(2016)3 on remedying human rights violations by business enterprises and also insists on measures to induce business to respect human rights.

The Recommendation elaborates on access to judicial remedy, drawing on Council of Europe expertise and legal standards in the field (civil and criminal liability, reduction of judicial barriers, legal aid, collective claims etc). It puts special emphasis on the additional protection needs of workers, children, indigenous people and human rights defenders.

A mid-term review of the implementation of the recommendation is foreseen within the 5 years following its adoption, a period during which good practices will be collected and shared among member States.

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Article
14 March 2016

NGOs welcome adoption of new Council of Europe Recommendation on Human Rights and Business

Author: European Coalition for Corporate Justice

ECCJ, Amnesty International, FIDH and ICJ welcome the adoption of the Recommendation of the Committee of Ministers to member States on human rights and business (the Recommendation) on 3 March 2016...The following highlights some of the most significant contributions of the Recommendation:

1) A clear and strong statement that member States should adopt measures to require business enterprises to respect all human rights, and that this should extend to global business operations in many circumstances.

2) The clear call on member States to encourage and where appropriate require mandatory human rights due diligence for business enterprises domiciled in their jurisdiction and those conducting substantial activities in their jurisdiction, including through human rights impact assessments.

3) The explicit recognition of the State-business nexus and obligation to respect human rights: from the activities of state-owned enterprises, the provision of financial support, the granting of export licences to privatising the delivery of services, competent authorities are asked to apply additional measures to ensure respect for human rights, human rights due diligence, and to ensure the decisions of these State authorities are subject to administrative or judicial review.

4) The need for member States to take into consideration possible human rights impacts when concluding trade and investment agreements or other relevant conventions.

5) Some of the most significant contributions of the new instrument are in the area of legal accountability of business enterprises and access to justice for victims of corporate human rights abuse.

6) Numerous recommendations aimed at strengthening a range of State-based non-judicial mechanisms such as labour inspectorates, consumer protection authorities and environmental agencies, NHRIs, ombudsperson institutions and national equality bodies, to make sure such bodies are effective and have the mandate and capacity to consider business-related human rights complaints, and afford reparation to victims.

7) A built in review mechanism that requires member States to demonstrate their progress in five years’ time.

Despite these notable positive elements, the Recommendation falls short in a number of important respects. The language used regrettably reflects States’ overall reluctance to adopt stronger commitments in certain critical areas. The Recommendation fails to address the question of the application of statutes of limitations to crimes under international law committed by corporations. Additionally, provision for assessment and review of the Recommendation’s implementation over time is disappointingly weak. It is hoped that future reviews will reconsider these issues in the Recommendation.

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