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Working Group on the issue of human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises



At its seventeenth session, in resolution A/HRC/17/4, the Human Rights Council decided to establish a Working Group on the issue of human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises, consisting of five independent experts, of balanced geographical representation, for a period of three years, and requested the Working Group:

  • To promote the effective and comprehensive dissemination and implementation of the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights: Implementing the United Nations “Protect, Respect and Remedy” Framework;
  • To identify, exchange and promote good practices and lessons learned on the implementation of the Guiding Principles and to assess and make recommendations thereon and, in that context, to seek and receive information from all relevant sources, including Governments, transnational corporations and other business enterprises, national human rights institutions, civil society and rights-holders;
  • To provide support for efforts to promote capacity-building and the use of the Guiding Principles, as well as, upon request, to provide advice and recommendations regarding the development of domestic legislation and policies relating to business and human rights;
  • To conduct country visits and to respond promptly to invitations from States;
  • To continue to explore options and make recommendations at the national, regional and international levels for enhancing access to effective remedies available to those whose human rights are affected by corporate activities, including those in conflict areas;
  • To integrate a gender perspective throughout the work of the mandate and to give special attention to persons living in vulnerable situations, in particular children;
  • To work in close cooperation and coordination with other relevant special procedures of the Human Rights Council, relevant United Nations and other international bodies, the treaty bodies and regional human rights organizations;
  • To develop a regular dialogue and discuss possible areas of cooperation with Governments and all relevant actors, including relevant United Nations bodies, specialized agencies, funds and programmes, in particular the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Global Compact, the International Labour Organization, the World Bank and its International Finance Corporation, the United Nations Development Programme and the International Organization for Migration, as well as transnational corporations and other business enterprises, national human rights institutions, representatives of indigenous peoples, civil society organizations and other regional and subregional international organizations;
  • To guide the work of the Forum on Business and Human Rights;
  • To report annually to the Human Rights Council and the General Assembly.

Forum on Business and Human Rights

The Council also decided to establish a Forum on business and human rights under the guidance of the Working Group to discuss trends and challenges in the implementation of the Guiding Principles and promote dialogue and cooperation on issues linked to business and human rights, including challenges faced in particular sectors, operational environments or in relation to specific rights or groups, as well as identifying good practices.

The Forum will be open to the participation of States, United Nations mechanisms, bodies and specialized agencies, funds and programmes, intergovernmental organizations, regional organizations and mechanisms in the field of human rights, national human rights institutions and other relevant bodies, transnational corporations and other business enterprises, business associations, labour unions, academics and experts in the field of business and human rights, representatives of indigenous peoples and non-governmental organizations in consultative status with the Economic and Social Council; the Forum shall also be open to other non-governmental organizations whose aims and purposes are in conformity with the spirit, purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations, including affected individuals and groups, based on arrangements including Economic and Social Council resolution 1996/31 of 25 July 1996, and practices observed by the Commission on Human Rights, through an open and transparent accreditation procedure in accordance with the Rules of Procedure of the Human Rights Council.

The Forum will meet annually for two working days.

The President of the Human Rights Council will appoint for each session, on the basis of regional rotation, and in consultation with regional groups, a chairperson of the Forum, nominated by members and observers of the Council; the chairperson serving in his/her personal capacity shall be responsible for the preparation of a summary of the discussion of the Forum, to be made available to the Working Group and all other participants of the Forum.

The Human Rights Council invited the Working Group to include in its report reflections on the proceedings of the Forum and recommendations for future thematic subjects for consideration by the Council.

Dates of 2012 session of the Working Group

  • 1st session: Geneva, 16-20 January 2012
  • 2nd session: Geneva, 7-11 May 2012
  • 3rd session: Geneva, 26-30 November 2012

Dates of 2012 Forum on Business and Human Rights

  • 4-5 December 2012