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Both states and companies have roles to play in ensuring that victims of business-related human rights abuses have access to effective remedy. Remedy means putting right any harm caused to people.

Pillar III: Access to Remedy

Even where states and business do their best to implement the Guiding Principles, negative human rights impacts may still result from a company’s operations. Therefore, affected people need to be able to seek redress through effective judicial and non-judicial grievance mechanisms. The third pillar of the Guiding Principles sets out such mechanisms can be strengthened by both states and businesses:

  • As part of their duty to protect, states must take appropriate steps to ensure that when abuses occur, victims have access to effective judicial and non-judicial state-based grievance mechanisms;
  • Non-state-based grievance mechanisms should complement state-based mechanisms. This includes mechanisms at the operational level (meaning that companies are involved in implementing them), at a national level, or as part of multistakeholder initiatives or international institutions;
  • All non-judicial grievance mechanisms should meet key effectiveness criteria by being legitimate, accessible, predictable, equitable, transparent, rights-compatible, a source of continuous learning, and (in the case of operational-level mechanisms) based on dialogue and engagement.

Piloting Principles for Effective Company-Stakeholders Grievance Mechanisms: A Report of Lessons Learned

May 2011 | Caroline Rees; Corporate Responsibility Initiative, Harvard Kennedy School

This comprehensive study of what constitutes effective operational-level grievance mechanisms was produced as part of the Ruggie mandate and was published by the UN Human Rights Council in 2011. Its findings are reflected in the Guiding Principles.

Embedding Rights Compatible Grievance Processes for External Stakeholders Within Business Culture

August 2009 | John F. Sherman III; Corporate Responsibility Initiative, Harvard Kennedy School

This resource summarizes key considerations for companies when creating an Integrated Conflict Management system to manage disputes with external stakeholders.

Protect, Respect and Remedy: A Framework for Business and Human Rights

April 2008 | John G. Ruggie; UN Human Rights Council

This report was submitted by John Ruggie to the UN Human Rights Council in 2008 and establishes the three-pillar framework for the Guiding Principles: protect, respect, remedy. It is not the Guiding Principles but helps to explain the rationale for them.

Mapping Grievance Mechanisms in the Business and Human Rights Arena

January 2008 | Caroline Rees, David Vermijs; Corporate Responsibility Initiative, Harvard Kennedy School

This report analyzes the existing grievance mechanisms from companies, industry groups, multistakeholder initiatives, national human rights institutions, national labor dispute systems, development banks and international institutions.

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