UN Forum 2019: Commentaries

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11 December 2019

Reflections on the 8th U.N. Forum on Business and Human Rights--Part II

Author: Larry Catá Backer

[The] drive toward the legalization of the 2nd Pillar corporate responsibility actually produces a new sort of imperial system with human rights at its center and a confederation of [...] states which formed the family of "civilized nations" as they were constituted in 1900 again appear take a leading position...

Here, at last, one might expect to see fulfilled the objectives that these states [...] had sought for a long time. That would be a regulatory structure driven by the law of the most powerful states and enforced through their judicial structures, now serving the higher cause of [...] international human rights.

Yet, rather than returning power to the human rights imperial cartel states, it has the effect of dissipating that authority.  States, effectively incapable of actually managing human rights through law, transform the role of law as a constituting element of legal orders that are actually delegated to enterprises (or better put delegated to the global production chains). As a consequence, the state itself disappears within the logic of the structures of its own approach to law into the vast data driven compliance machinery that the vanguard states have been furiously constructing (with the complicity of the largest enterprises) over the last generation...

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Article
5 December 2019

Insider Perspective: The United Nations Forum on Business and Human Rights 2019

Author: Davide Fiedler, WBCSD

[T]he UNGPs propose that States consider a “smart mix of measures - national and international, mandatory and voluntary”. Numerous countries are discussing, creating or have already adopted action plans, policies or laws to incentivize, pressure or mandate business respect for human rights. However, discussions throughout the forum highlighted unsatisfactory levels of business performance and disclosure and called into question the effectiveness of efforts and measures taken to date...

The tone of the debate seems to be shifting towards mandatory human rights disclosure and due diligence by business and we expect this to be reflected in new or renewed discussions on binding legislation at national and international levels...

"Companies that have already begun to implement the UNGPs will be ahead of the regulatory curve." ...

[T]he impact of technology on human rights was a recurring topic of discussion in sessions and side-events.

Concerns are growing over the risks of human rights violations that arise from technology, as well as a realization that we are only beginning to understand the negative impacts of technology...

[T]he Forum provided a space to learn about how technology can be used to bring about positive impact on people’s rights...

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