BUSINESS AND HUMAN RIGHTS: Largest open dialogue set to begin in Geneva

Summary: On 3 December, around one thousand participants will join the largest global discussion to date on how governments and businesses are moving to address the impacts of business activities on human rights. The forum, taking place in Geneva, closes on 5 December.

Participants from 85 countries, including around 40 State delegations, 150 business enterprises and 170 civil society organisations, will join the global dialogue at the UN's 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.

Forum Objective

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. which were endorsed on 16 June 2011 by the Human Rights Council,  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.

“This first global gathering on businesses and human rights will be an opportunity for all stakeholders to discuss challenges in the implementation of the Guiding Principles in particular sectors, in operational environments and in relation to specific rights and groups, and to identify good practices and opportunities for dialogue and cooperation toward solutions,” Mr. Selvanathan said.

Schedule and side events

For full details of the upcoming forum:


Children's Rights and the Guiding Principles

Back on 31 January, CRIN submitted comments on the draft Guiding Principles, expressing disappointment in the lack of attention to children. The statement read:

"As the Guiding Principles are now drafted, it is difficult to imagine that they could provide any meaningful direction for States and business enterprises seeking to “protect, respect and remedy” the human rights of children. Children are particularly and uniquely vulnerable to human rights abuses, and yet are also least able to draw attention to violations of their rights. The draft Guiding Principles do not appear to recognize either of these realities".

CRIN will be monitoring the forum to assess the inclusion of children's rights on the agenda. Visit our UN News section.

Further Information



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