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.

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We must act quickly to ensure the least possible harm is done to our environment. We need strong policies to protect our planet, our children and our future.

UN experts condemn #Egypt for arbitrary arrest and detention of Gasser Abdel Razek, Karim Ennarah & Mohammad Basheer – 3 rights defenders from the same organisation – apparently in retaliation for discussing #HumanRights issues with foreign ambassadors 👉

.@MisionGinebra @cooperaciocat have donated $117K to support our Office’s #humanrights work. You can donate too:

The increased use by law enforcement of big data, AI, facial recognition, and other new technology risks deepening racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and consequently the violation of many #HumanRights – #CERD experts 👉


UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination publishes its guidance to combat racial profiling, emphasizing, among other issues, the serious risk of algorithmic bias when #ArtificialIntelligence is used in law enforcement 👉

#FightRacism #CERD

Eager to know how you can #recoverbetter from #COVID19& #standup4humanrights? UN Human Rights Chief @MBachelet will answer selected questions for our upcoming #HumanRightsDay Online event on 10 Dec. Send your questions before 27 November, using #recoverbetter.

UNiTE to #EndViolenceAgainstWomen – UNAMI Human Rights Office calls for the prompt enactment of the Anti-Domestic Violence Law & recognizes the efforts of #Iraq|i women, men & youth to STOP domestic violence through an illustration-based campaign @UNHumanRights #OrangeTheWorld


Deeply concerned by #TrinidadandTobago's decision to deport 16 Venezuelan children + 9 adults while an application was being lodged against their removal, we urge the authorities to safeguard refugee & migrant children's rights regardless of their status:

Eager to know how you can #recoverbetter from #COVID19& #standup4humanrights? UN Human Rights Chief @MBachelet will answer selected questions for our upcoming #HumanRightsDay Online event on 10 Dec. Send your questions before 27 November, using #recoverbetter.

Alarmed by reports that #AhmadrezaDjalali has been transferred to solitary confinement in preparation for his execution despite widely held findings that his trial was grossly unfair and he was tortured, UN experts call on #Iran to reverse this decision 👉

Build a world in which women and girls are free from all forms of violence / discrimination. It's the Intl Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women - join the movement to #EndVAW #RightToABetterWorld.
#orangetheworld #GenerationEquality #16Days

Join our regional meetings to help #FightRacism against people of #AfricanDescent. Meetings organised by UN Working Group of People on African Descent (#WGEPAD).

More info:

.@NLinGeneva has donated $168K to support our Office’s #humanrights work. You can donate too:

🇧🇷 The killing of João Alberto Silveira Freitas – an Afro-descendent beaten to death by 2 private security guards on the eve of #BlackConsciousness Day – is an extreme but sadly all too common example of the violence suffered by Black people in #Brazil 👉

UN #HRCttee finds #Angola violated #ICCPR by taking steps to deport 17 Turkish asylum seekers without proper individualised assessment of eligibility. The State should refrain from deporting the applicants and establish fair & effective asylum procedures:

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Business & Human Rights