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Businesses everywhere have a responsibility to respect human rights throughout their activities and business relationships. That means avoiding infringing on the rights of people, and addressing negative impacts where the business caused or contributed to them.

Pillar II: Business Responsibility to Respect

The second pillar of the Guiding Principles provides a blueprint for businesses to prevent and address negative human rights impacts. This blueprint is made up of eight elements — click on the elements below to explore each one. 

As companies implement the eight elements, they should also keep in mind these overarching concepts:

  • The “blueprint” of the Guiding Principles is a risk management approach – but the focus is on risk to people, not just risk to the business;
  • The responsibility to respect human rights extends throughout a company’s own operations and all of its business relationships throughout its value chain;
  • Compliance with local law may not be sufficient to meet the expectations of the Guiding Principles;
  • Companies cannot offset negative impacts on people by “doing good,” such as through philanthropy or staff volunteering.

1. Commit

Making a public statement

2. Embed

Making respect part of company culture

3. Assess

Moving from reactive to proactive

4. Act

Walking the talk

5. Track

Knowing if it worked

6. Communicate

Explaining the company's efforts

7. Engage

Conducting meaningful dialogue

8. Remediate

Ensuring early warning and effective solutions

Corporate-Community Dialogue: Documentary Series

June 2012 | Corporate Responsibility Initiative, Harvard Kennedy School

This documentary series looks at how companies and communities have resolved disputes over corporate activities on three specific projects: an oil and gas facility in Nigeria, a mine in Peru and a hydropower project in the Philippines.

Advising the Global Network Initiative on a Public Engagement Mechanism

February 2012 | Partners: Global Network Initiative

Helping a multistakeholder initiative solicit information and feedback from the public on issues related to privacy and freedom of expression.

The Corporate Responsibility to Respect Human Rights: An Interpretive Guide

November 2011 | United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights

This resource is the official guidance issued by the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights for implementers of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.

Law Firms' Implementation of the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights

November 2011 | Advocates for International Development

This discussion paper, produced just after the endorsement of the Guiding Principles, addresses legal professionals key responsibilities when it comes to human rights, and identifies leading practices.

UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights

June 2011 | John G. Ruggie; United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights

This resource is the global authoritative standard on the business responsibility to respect human rights, unanimously endorsed by the UN Human Rights Council in 2011.

Human Rights and Corporate Law: Trends and Observations From a Cross-National Study Conducted by the Special Representative

May 2011 | John G. Ruggie; UN Human Rights Council

This report summarizes the findings based on extensive research and consultation with corporate law experts in multiple jurisdictions regarding the links between corporate and securities law and human rights.

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.

Getting it Right: Making Corporate-Community Relations Work

June 2009 | Mary B. Anderson and Luc Zandvliet; Greenleaf Publishing

This go-to guidance book on corporate-community relations in the extractive sector is based on nearly 10 years of field experience at 40 operational sites around the world.

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