Constructive multi-stakeholder exchange : Assessing the UNGPs to move forward in the protection of human rights

Press release
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The workshop organized by FIDH on the 4 September in Brussels for the 6th anniversary of the UNGPs brought together representatives from European institutions, European Member States, civil society and business enterprises. The meeting organized under Chatham House rules gave rise to open and rich discussions on the existing progress and gaps in the implementation of the three pillars of the UNGPs.

Participants mainly agree that six years after its adoption, the UNGPs have gained international consensus, help achieve some progress and raised awareness among corporations. However, they still lack effective implementation and need a monitoring mechanism.

State delegates shared the progress achieved and difficulties encountered in the adoption and implementation of National Action Plans (NAPs). Business representatives expressed the need for clear established rules that ensure a human rights-based level playing field. NGOs illustrated the obstacles faced by victims on the ground, and highlighted UNGPs’ failure to improve access to remedy. They stressed that the core of business model should change to integrate and fully comply with human rights and suggested the harmonization of legislation as a way forward at the European and international level. Panelists also underlined the need to better articulate and coordinate the UNGPs with other initiatives such as national due diligence regulations, the implementation of the SDGs and the Treaty process.

The need to go beyond the existing UNGPs by adopting an international binding Treaty was an issue that emerged during the discussions. Panelists argued that the future instrument could actually complement and build on the UNGPs, filling the existing accountability and protection gaps. The EU, which for many participants has not yet fully used its leverage to push forward the business and human rights agenda, was called upon to play an active and leading role in both the coordination of the Member States implementation of the UNGPs, as well as the negotiation of the Treaty during the upcoming October session of the Intergovernmental Working Group.

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