Business & Human Rights Programme

The Bhopal disaster in 1984 and the Rana Plaza collapse in 2013 are examples of how human rights violations in the private sector can cause huge loss of life. In the wake of events such as these and other human rights violations by the private sector, civil society has increasingly called for companies to be held accountable to human rights standards. If companies had been held accountable to such standards, these disasters may never have happened.

Within existing international human rights law, states are the primary duty-bearer and private actors are only indirectly obliged to abide by human rights law, generally through state legislation. This has led to many companies believing that their only obligation is to respect national laws, even where those laws have failed to meet international human rights standards.

In June 2011 this debate was put to an end when the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs) were endorsed by the UN Human Rights Council. The UNGPs rest on three pillars:

  1. The state duty to protect against human rights abuses by third parties, including business;
  2. The corporate responsibility to respect human rights; and
  3. Access by affected people to effective remedy, both judicial and non-judicial.

These guidelines are an authoritative starting point in defining human rights responsibilities within the private sector. Whilst businesses are not being asked to take on the same responsibilities as governments, they are still expected to respect human rights and provide remedy in cases of human rights violations.

Codes and standards related to companies and human rights have proliferated in recent years. This trend has been picked up by governments, who have started passing related legislation, and investors, who have started requesting that companies disclose data on their human rights performance.

The UN Global Compact Network UK's Business and Human Rights Programme aims to support businesses to better understand and apply human rights standards in their operations.

Our programme includes, but is not limited to, the following activities:

We welcome suggestions if there is anything you would like to see us cover in our B&HR Programme. Please contact Senior Programme Manager, Bee Delgado.

Save lives, wear a mask that covers your nose, mouth and chin.

Protect yourself and people around you by following @WHO's advice: #WearAMask!

I nominate @andersen_inger, @CokeHamilton and @DrMukhisaKituyi to show us their masks.

After the horrific blast in #Beirut, the international community must step up and help #Lebanon and its people.

As the city and the country rebuilds, the need to protect the rights of the poorest and most vulnerable is more important than ever.

Read 👉

🇯🇴 We are deeply concerned by #Jordan’s decision to close a teachers’ trade union, arrest its leaders and suspend its board for 2 years, replacing it with an interim Government-appointed committee. Learn more:

Releasing migrants from immigration detention and temporarily suspending forced returns are important steps for States to take under #COVID19.

No one should be detained indefinitely.


🇾🇪 #Yemen: Journalists are under attack from all quarters – UN Human Rights Chief @mbachelet says attacks against them may amount to war crimes, and those responsible for such crimes must be brought to justice.

Learn more:

UN #ChildRights experts #CRC @TomObokata @MamaFatimaS hail universal ratification of @ILO convention against worst forms of child labour. It will help protect children from labour and sexual exploitation, and ensure their rights to health & education.


“In spite of the #COVID19 crisis, climate activism must continue.” Solomon Yeo is a young climate change and human rights activist from the Solomon Islands. Read more about his work on the climate crisis in the Pacific:


.@GermanyUNGeneva has donated $51K to support our Office’s #humanrights work. You can donate too: @giz_gmbh

My thoughts with Lebanon. More than resilience will be needed to overcome this crisis. I call on the international community to stand in solidarity with the Lebanese people.

We must help.

Chairpersons of the 10 @UN committees that monitor the implementation of international #HumanRights treaties call on States to properly support their work, warning that the current underfunding is a serious concern, especially amid the #COVID19 pandemic 👉

“This is a global crisis. We need global actors to face it internationally,” said Kely Brunner, a human rights officer in our Honduras Office. She works on issues affecting human rights defenders & journalists & promotion of civic participation. Read more:

#HagiaSophia should be preserved by the Turkish government as a space for the meeting of cultures, uniting people – @UNSRCulture & @ahmedshaheed. The experts are concerned that changing the status of the monument may put Turkey’s cultural heritage at risk:

Last month, over 1 billion students were affected by #COVID19 school closures.

Even before the pandemic, the world was facing a learning crisis.

We must take bold steps now, to create inclusive, resilient, quality education systems fit for the future.

#Roma are still victims of hate crimes, decades after mass killings. On Roma Holocaust Remembrance Day, UN expert @fernanddev urges governments to ensure that they can live as equal members of society, without fear & stigmatisation.

Learn more:

.@EU_Commission has donated $1.98M to support our Office’s #humanrights work. You can donate too:

Desde el 1 de agosto de 2020, Juliette de Rivero será la nueva Representante en Colombia de la Alta Comisionada de la ONU para los Derechos Humanos👇🏿👇🏿👇🏿👇🏿lee más aquí: @CancilleriaCol @UNHumanRights


Today we launched a new publication on how UN Guiding Principles on Business & Human Rights help manage #humanrights risks in  #businessmodels. It addresses the role of users, investors, states, and civil society in mitigating these risks:  @rightscon

What is the role of the UN Guiding Principles on Business & Human Rights in the tech sector? See our new publication on how #technology business models may drive #HumanRights risks, and which managerial measures companies should adopt.

UN experts warn of increased patterns of closing of digital spaces amid #COVID19: digital technologies must not be used to restrict fundamental freedoms, reduce civic space, and target civil society actors, including human rights defenders 👉

Load More...

Business & Human Rights