Guidelines for Human Rights Transparency Launches
18 November 2015 at 8:12 am
The latest guidelines for the world’s most widely used corporate sustainability reporting standards were launched at the annual United Nations Forum on Business and Human Rights.
Pioneering body of the international standards, GRI, released its latest “linkage document”, Linking G4 and the UN Guiding Principles, which incorporated the key concepts of the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.
Chair of the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights, Margaret Jungk, said in the Guideline’s Foreword that, given its power, the corporate sector had an important role to play in ensuring human rights.
“Multinational companies have grown to rival the influence of the governments hosting them. State-owned enterprises and public procurement are playing increasingly important roles in the global economy,” Jungk said.
“As the impacts of the private sector reach further around the world and deeper into our lives, the human rights framework of the UN Guiding Principles is the best way we have of ensuring that those impacts are not adverse.
“The promise of the Universal Declaration from 1948 remains unfulfilled. But as we continue to work toward a world where the respect for human rights is a universal reality rather than an ongoing mission, it is clear that companies will play a critical role.
“We have the principles to get us to that world, all we need now is the practice. Practical guidance, like this GRI linkage document, is essential for embedding human rights into business practice.”
The Guiding Principles include due diligence, grievance mechanisms, supply chain accountability, and impact assessments for operations and suppliers.
GRI had incorporated the UN Guiding Principles, recognising the importance of corporate transparency, since they were adopted unanimously by the General Assembly in 2011. They clarified, for the first time, the roles of both the state and the private sector regarding human rights impacts and made both parties accountable should a violation occur.
“Corporate reporting that combines the use of international principles… is fundamental to creating the transparency needed to enable better decision making by governments, businesses and other stakeholders,” GRI Chief Executive, Michael Meehan, said.
“The sustainability reporting process provides guidance in selecting the most relevant impacts, enabling companies to monitor them. The reporting process also enables organisations to communicate how they assess and manage those impacts.
“Transparency and disclosure of sustainability information on key global challenges, such as human rights, helps to enable more informed decision making, which in turn helps to build trust with all stakeholders, including investors, employees, and the public.”
Meehan also said that the sustainability reporting had gained traction over the years and had resulted in better business practices.
“The sustainability reporting landscape is evolving and the reporting process is now used as a strategic tool by executives, civil society, investors, governments and other stakeholders,” he said.
“We are already seeing companies utilising sustainability data far beyond the confines of a report, incorporating this information into a wide range of organisational strategic priorities.
“This shift towards an internally-focused process is driving better management, better thinking, and better results.”
The annual UN Forum on Business and Human Rights, now in its fourth year, is the largest global gathering of its kind, bringing together experts and practitioners to address human rights challenges.