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European Commission Human Rights Sector Guides

This collaboration with a range of practitioners and stakeholders led to the development of guidance for three sectors on implementing the Guiding Principles.

February 2012

PARTNERS: Institute for Human Rights and Business; European Commission Directorate-General for Enterprise

"Respect for human rights is part of the recipe for modern business excellence. This guidance meets global standards agreed in the UN while leaving enterprises the necessary flexibility to adapt their approach to their own particular circumstances." -- Antonio Tajani, Vice-President of the European Commission, Enterprise and Industry

Human Rights Guides for Three Sectors

In June 2013, the European Commission issued three guides on implementing the Guiding Principles, tailored for specific industry sectors.

There are three guidance documents, one for each sector:

  • employment and recruitment agencies;
  • information and communication technologies (ICT) companies;
  • oil and gas companies

The guides are written by Shift and the Institute for Human Rights and Business.

> Jump to the guides

What the Guides Do

Each Guide offers practical advice on how to implement the corporate responsibility to respect human rights in day-to-day business operations in each industry through step-by-step guidance. At each step, they summarize what the Guiding Principles expect, offer a range of approaches and examples for how to put them into practice, and link users to additional resources that can support their work. They are intended to help companies “translate” respect for human rights into their own systems and cultures.

How the Guides Were Developed

The Guides were developed over 18 months by Shift and the Institute for Human Rights and Business through extensive research and multistakeholder consultation with representatives from the three industries as well as governments, trade unions, civil society, academia and other experts.

"Business is an increasingly important player in the world of human rights. This guidance aims to help enterprises in Europe and elsewhere to meet the corporate responsibility to respect human rights, as defined by the UN and strongly endorsed by the EU."- Stavros Lambrinidis, EU Special Representative for Human Rights

Support for the Guides

Jim Baker, Council of Global Unions: "The UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights were derived, on the one hand, from universal human rights standards and, on the other, from real world experience. Human rights, like life itself, cannot be reduced to a checklist or to simple slogans. It is only through understanding and reflection that the Guiding Principles can become 'simple' and applicable. These guidance publications are designed to further that process."

Brent Wilton, International Organisation of Employers: "The three sector guides are comprehensive compendiums which contribute to helping companies in those sectors and beyond gain understanding of the scope of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights."

Alexandra Guáqueta, UN Working Group on business and human rights: "Dozens of sectoral guides and tools on how to implement the UN Guiding Principles are being produced. This is a solid indicator of the relevance and high demand for the Guiding Principles. Now users want to know whether the practical guides are actually aligned with the Guiding Principles. A best practice example of such alignment are the new EC Sectoral Guidelines. They capture the essence of the Guiding Principles faithfully, they refer to the interdependence of the state, corporate and remedy pillars, and were formulated after technical research, expert consultations and multi-stakeholder dialogue processes with state, business and civil society actors from across the globe. They will no doubt be a valuable source for practitioners and affected persons alike."

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