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Human Rights Reporting and Assurance Frameworks Initiative

This initiative provides companies with comprehensive guidance about how to report on and assure human rights management and performance.

November 2012

PARTNERS: Mazars

The Human Rights Reporting and Assurance Frameworks Initiative is a multistakeholder consultative process that supports the development of the UN Guiding Principles Reporting Framework and its supporting (forthcoming) assurance guidance. The UNGP Reporting Framework, published in February 2015, is available with supporting material on its dedicated website.

Documentation about the consultative process of this initiative is kindly hosted by the Business and Human Rights Resource Centre. This page provides an overview of the UNGP Reporting Framework -- we encourage readers to also visit the Framework's dedicated website.

In August 2016, Shift began a multi-year, multi-country reporting program that uses the UNGP Reporting Framework to catalyze improved reporting and performance by companies on human rights. Learn more about that program here.

What is the UNGP Reporting Framework?

“The UN Guiding Principles Reporting Framework is an indispensable tool that companies have been waiting for. This tool will mark a major breakthrough in company relations with individuals and communities whose lives they impact.” – John Ruggie, author of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights

The UN Guiding Principles Reporting Framework is the first comprehensive guidance for companies to report on human rights issues in line with their responsibility to respect human rights. This responsibility is set out in the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, which constitute the authoritative global standard in this field. The UNGP Reporting Framework was launched in February 2015.

The Reporting Framework provides a concise set of questions to which any company should strive to have answers in order to know and show that it is meeting its responsibility to respect human rights in practice. It offers companies clear and straightforward guidance on how to answer these questions with relevant and meaningful information about their human rights policies, processes and performance.

> Click here to see the latest news on the UNGP Reporting Framework

“This most authoritative framework that has been brought forward is, for me, the answer. I want companies, not just in Europe but throughout the world, to use it.” - Richard Howitt MEP, European Parliament Rapporteur on Corporate Social Responsibility

How the Reporting Framework Was Developed

The UNGP Reporting Framework was developed through the Human Rights Reporting and Assurance Frameworks Initiative (RAFI). RAFI is co-facilitated by Shift and Mazars through an open, global, consultative process involving representatives from over 200 companies, investor groups, civil society organizations, governments, assurance providers, lawyers and other expert organizations from all regions of the world. Consultations took place in Addis Ababa, Bangkok, Jakarta, London, Manila, Medellin, New York and Yangon.

The Reporting and Assurance Frameworks Initiative is overseen by an Eminent Persons Group. Further information about the project team and the Eminent Persons Group can be viewed here. RAFI is made possible by grants from the governments of Norway, Sweden and the United Kingdom.

Support for the Reporting Framework

The Reporting Framework is supported by an investor coalition of over 80 investors representing nearly $5 trillion assets under management, by six early adopter companies and by leading institutions including the UN Working Group on business and human rights, the UN Global Compact and the International Integrated Reporting Council.

The Framework is cited and recommended by multiple governments in policy and guidance documents. Hundreds of companies have participated in training and outreach on the Framework, and dozens more are using the Framework for both internal management of human rights as well as for reporting. | Learn more about what supporters and users say about the UNGP Reporting Framework

The UNGP Reporting Framework is, “an essential tool that enables investors to review companies’ understanding and management of human rights risks. It will also guide us in our engagement with companies going forward.” — investor statement of support, signed by over 80 investors representing over $4.8 trillion assets under management

“The UN Guiding Principles Reporting Framework equips us to understand what we may face – it reduces the number of unknown unknowns.” — Richard Kooloos, Head of Sustainable Banking, ABN AMRO; early adopter of the UNGP Reporting Framework

Ongoing Activities

Separate work is now underway through RAFI on the issue of assurance. Several consultations were held in 2015, of which summary reports are publicly available. In light of these discussions, a first draft of practitioner guidance for assurance providers was prepared for multistakeholder consultation in fall 2015. This guidance should help both companies’ internal auditors as well as their external assurance providers assess the effectiveness of companies’ human rights-related policies and processes, and enable assurance providers to present more meaningful public opinions on companies’ human rights reporting than is often the case today. The guidance is expected to be published in 2017.

To further drive improvements in corporate reporting on human rights, in March 2016 Shift launched the UNGP Reporting Database. The Reporting Database shows what companies say about how they are implementing the UNGPs, based on their public disclosure. It uses the questions of the UNGP Reporting Framework to review corporate disclosure. It is designed to help companies, governments, investors, civil society organizations and other stakeholders see the extent to which a company is reporting what they need to know about its human rights performance. The database is fully searchable by company name, region, sector and salient human rights issues, and the results of searches are viewable online and in a downloadable spreadsheet format. The database currently features 40 of the world's largest companies and the project team is continuing to add companies.

Capitalizing on the success of the UNGP Reporting Framework, in August 2016 Shift began a multi-year, multi-country initiative that uses the UNGP Reporting Framework to catalyze improved reporting and performance by companies on human rights. Learn more about that initiative here.

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