For the past decade or so I have been keeping abreast of developments in business and human rights in Australia and abroad and have just updated an introductory reading list for a forthcoming workshop. I would like to share the key documents with those of you who need to get across the topic quickly without compromising quality.
Whether you are a law student, a sustainability or corporate responsibility professional or simply an interested individual – if you want to save time sifting through the vast amount of material and wish to get to the substance immediately – look no further. The list of articles below is organised in priority order:
- Ruggie’s ‘Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights‘, March 2011 ( 27 pages plain text or 40 pages pretty copy with lot’s of images) – Prof Ruggie was the UN Special Representative of the Secretary General on the issue of human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises (yes, I know, it’s a mouthful but don’t let that deter you!) and these Principles are the result of six years of consultation, research and analysis. If you read nothing else – reading the Principles will give you a very good understanding of the issues involved. The UN Human Rights Council unanimously endorsed the Guiding Principles and their implementation and Ruggie’s work is now continued by ‘the Working Group on the issue of human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises‘ and the Annual Forum on Business & Human Rights.
- The Global Compact (GC) brochure – with currently more than 10,000 signatories in over 140 countries it is the largest, voluntary corporate sustainability initiative. The GC was established in 2000 and is evolving constantly with more and more case studies being added on the official website. The GC has often been criticised for not being tough enough on monitoring the implementation of the 10 Principles that make up the Compact but is making all efforts to change that reputation.
- Ruggie: Protect, Respect and Remedy; A Framework for Business and Human Rights, April 2008 ( 28 pages) report lays the groundwork for implementation of the responsibility of governments to protect human rights, the responsibility of business to respect human rights and the shared responsibility to ensure greater access to remedies by victims of human rights abuses. This framework formed the basis for the Guiding Principles and were welcomed by all sectors as it clearly spelled out each sectors role.
- The Corporate legal accountability briefing published 20 June 2012 from The Business and Human Rights Resource Centre (13 pages). This online Resource Centre is truly the world’s leading independent resource on the subject and a one-stop-shop of business and human rights for all sectors. The website is updated hourly with news and reports about companies’ human rights impacts worldwide – positive and negative. The Briefing provides a very good overview of international trends and developments in corporate human rights legal cases with a special online portal providing backup information about more than 70 lawsuits worldwide.
There are of course other important contributors to the field including National Human Rights Institutions, academic institutions and civil society organisations and that is the content for another blog.
For now, happy reading and please feel free to add to the list, comment or ask questions!