Participants from 85 countries, including around 40 State delegations, 150 business enterprises and 170 civil society organisations, joined the global dialogue at the United Nations first annual Forum on Business and Human Rights.
“The first Forum on Business and Human Rights has already exceeded all expectations. The much higher than anticipated turnout indicates the interest from all stakeholders in the business and human rights agenda,” said Puvan Selvanathan, who currently heads the five-strong UN Group of experts tasked with guiding the event.
The Forum is designed to promote the implementation of the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights*, a set of internationally accepted principles which provide a global standard for preventing and addressing the risk of negative human rights impacts linked to business activity.
The Guiding Principles outline what States and business enterprises should do in practice to prevent and address impacts and to ensure access to effective remedies for those whose rights have been adversely affected by business activity.
“They also give businesses predictability in what is expected of them, and provide other stakeholders, including civil society and investors, the tools to measure progress where it matters most – in the daily lives of people,” said John Ruggie, the former Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General on the issue, who led the work to develop the Principles. Professor Ruggie was appointed the first chairperson of the Forum. “The work toward full implementation of the UN Guiding Principles for business and human rights has only just begun.”
The UN Forum on Business and Human Rights will bring together, among others, representatives for multinational corporations in the areas of mining, oil and energy, chemicals, banking and finance, electronics and textile and garments, with persons affected by their activities.