About the Working Group

Credit: OHCHR

In June 2011, the UN Human Rights Council established a "working group on the issue of human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises", commonly referred to as the Working Group on business & human rights, "consisting of five independent experts...for a period of three years“.  The Working Group's mandate was renewed in June 2014.

Official page for UN Working Group on Office of UN High Commissioner for Human Rights website

1. Members

2. Establishment & mandate

3. Methods of work

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1. Members

The current members of the UN Working Group are:

In addition to the bios linked to above, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has published bios for the members here.  The members act as chair on a rotating basis for 6-month terms.

The original members took up their roles in November 2011. The following individuals are former members of the UN Working Group:

  • Ms. Margaret Jungk [online bio] - member between 2011 and 2015. See open letter of resignation here.
  • Mr. Puvan Selvanathan [online bio] - member between 2011 and 2015. See open letter of resignation here.
  • Ms. Alexandra Guáqueta [online bio] - member between 2011 and 2015

Nominations & appointment

After the UN Human Rights Council adopted the resolution establishing the UN Working Group, the Council accepted nominations for the Working Group from all members of the public during June-July 2011.  Procedures to apply were posted here

NGOs proposed a checklist of qualifications for members. 

A consultative group to the President of the Human Rights Council reviewed the nominations to the Working Group and made recommendations; its report is here.

2. Establishment & mandate

The UN Working Group was established for an initial three-year term by a resolution adopted by the UN Human Rights Council in June 2011, which set out the Working Group's mandate. 
- full text of resolution: Arabic - Chinese - English - French - Russian - Spanish

For the process of nomination & appointment of the members, click here.

Its mandate includes:

" (a) To promote the effective and comprehensive dissemination and implementation of the Guiding Principles...;

  (b) To identify, exchange and promote good practices and lessons learned on the implementation of the Guiding Principles and to assess and make recommendations thereon and, in that context, to seek and receive information from all relevant sources, including Governments, transnational corporations and other business enterprises, national human rights institutions, civil society and rights-holders;...

  (c) To provide support for efforts to promote capacity-building and the use of the Guiding Principles, as well as, upon request, to provide advice and recommendations regarding the development of domestic legislation and policies relating to business and human rights; 

  (d) To conduct country visits and to respond promptly to invitations from States; 

  (e) To continue to explore options and make recommendations at the national, regional and international levels for enhancing access to effective remedies available to those whose human rights are affected by corporate activities;

  (f) To integrate a gender perspective throughout the work of the mandate and to give special attention to persons living in vulnerable situations, in particular children; 

  (g) To work in close cooperation and coordination with other relevant special procedures of the Human Rights Council, relevant United Nations and other international bodies, the treaty bodies and regional human rights organizations; 

  (h) To develop a regular dialogue and discuss possible areas of cooperation with Governments and all relevant actors, including relevant United Nations bodies, specialized agencies, funds and programmes..., as well as transnational corporations and other business enterprises, national human rights institutions, representatives of indigenous peoples, civil society organizations and other regional and subregional international organizations;

  (i) To guide the work of the Forum on Business and Human Rights;

  (j) To report annually to the Human Rights Council and the General Assembly..."

3. Methods of work

At its first session (Jan 2012), the Working Group discussed how it would implement its mandate.  It then published a note on decisions it made about its working methods (revised Nov 2012), including the following issues:

  • Chairperson-Rapporteur

  • Country missions

  • Field work

  • Multi-stakeholder, consultative and inclusive approach

  • The Working Group’s consideration of information received - states in part "the Working Group is not generally in a position to address individual cases of alleged business-related human rights abuse.  In some circumstances, however, the Working Group may exercise its discretion to raise specific allegations that it determines to be particularly emblematic with relevant State authorities and companies, and request clarification or additional information as appropriate."

  • The Forum on Business and Human Rights

  • Reporting

  • Strategy