In 2011, the United Nations Human Rights Council endorsed the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. These principles are important because they:
- recognise that not only governments, but businesses also violate people’s human rights;
- frame labour rights as human rights
- are based on the International Declaration of Human Rights and the ILO Declaration on
- Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work.
- state that Businesses are responsible for human rights violations in their supply chains.
The UN Guiding Principles state that every business should:
- Develop and publish a human rights policy;
- Do a due diligence – an investigation – of its supply chains to identify whether workers rights are being violated and take steps to prevent labour rights violations; and
- Make sure there is a mechanism for workers to complain and they provide “remedies” for workers whose rights are violated.
The UN Guiding Principles are Voluntary Principles, so Businesses can choose whether or not to implement them. Although they are voluntary, increasingly there is a lot of pressure on companies to apply the principles. France now has a Law that makes it mandatory for its companies to do a “due diligence” in its supply chains; the Netherlands and the United Kingdom are working on a law; and the EU is also working on a Law that will apply to all European Law countries.