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UN Forum 2019: Statements & Session Content

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26 November 2019

Open for Sign-on: Statement on the Investor Case for Mandatory Human Rights Due Diligence

Author: Investor Alliance for Human Rights

25 November 2019

The Investor Alliance for Human Rights invites all institutional investors to sign on to a statement entitled The Investor Case for Mandatory Human Rights Due Diligence. The statement calls on all governments to develop, implement, and enforce mandatory human rights due diligence (mHRDD) requirements for all companies headquartered or operating within their own jurisdictions or, where appropriate, to further strengthen these regulatory regimes where they already exist.

This statement follows the previous Investor Alliance statement entitled Making Finance Work for People and Planet, which calls on governments to require investors to consider human rights throughout the investment lifecycle. For investors to succeed in these efforts, it is critical that companies conduct HRDD as set out in the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and the OECD Due Diligence Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises.

All institutional investors are welcome to sign on to The Investor Case for Mandatory Human Rights Due Diligence on an ongoing basis by completing this form.

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25 November 2019

Opening remarks by Ms. Elżbieta Karska Chairperson of the Working Group on Business and Human Rights

Author: Ms. Elżbieta Karska Chairperson of the Working Group on Business and Human Rights

This year we underline that it is time for Governments to act and step up in their job as catalysts for business respect for human rights. Indeed, Government action is overdue and urgent to adequately address the challenges of today and prevent those of tomorrow...

The duty of vigilance law in France has set the example for similar initiatives underway elsewhere. In Europe the tide seems to be working for mandatory human rights due diligence...

We have also seen new national action plans on business and human rights...

Yet, we have a very long way to go. The reality is that people in all regions continue to suffer from business-related harms, often on a large-scale and with irreversible damage...

[F]or three years the Corporate Human Rights Benchmark has ranked major companies in high-risk sectors. The results show that most companies are still not demonstrating respect for human rights...

[T]his suggests that there are limits to the market-based approaches linked to rankings, reputational and investor pressure.

Without a level playing field, many companies can continue to ignore their responsibility to respect human rights.

A key message of the Working Group in our report to the General Assembly last year was Governments need to close such governance gaps and market failures...

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25 November 2019

Opening Statement by Michelle Bachelet, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights

Author: Michelle Bachelet, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights

[A]lthough more and more companies are recognizing their corporate responsibility to respect human rights – and are implementing human rights due diligence – we are still seeing unprincipled business practices, which continue to generate preventable human suffering; impede inclusive and sustainable development; and fuel inequalities. 

Many of the mass protests we have been seeing – in both developed and developing countries – arise from issues that you will be discussing over the next three days...

We are also seeing an increase in attacks and killings of human rights defenders...

Another emerging issue is connected to the digital revolution...

We need coherent policy and legislative action, as the Working Group has emphasised in its recent report to the General Assembly. Under international human rights law, States have an obligation to protect people against human rights abuse by business enterprises. The Guiding Principles clarify that to implement this duty, States should consider a "smart mix" of measures – national and international, mandatory and voluntary – to foster business respect for human rights...

Enlightened business leaders know that doing the right thing is also the smart thing to do...

Indeed, without businesses and responsible investors, it will be, quite simply, impossible to achieve the promise of the 2030 Agenda... But we need to count on both States and businesses...

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