Debevoise & Plimpton

UK government publishes action plan implementing UN Guiding Principles on business and human rights

On 4 September, the UK government released its Action Plan on Business and Human Rights, the beginning of the UK’s implementation of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, becoming one of the first countries to produce such a plan. The UN Guiding Principles were developed in 2011 by the former special representative for business and human rights for the UN secretary-general, John Ruggie. They are recognised as a global standard for preventing and addressing the risks of adverse impacts on human rights from business activity.

The action plan provides clarity on the UK government’s own human rights obligations and outlines its expectations of businesses. The action plan emphasises that, in accordance with the Guiding Principles, all business enterprises domiciled in the UK will be expected to respect internationally recognised human rights when operating in the UK and overseas.

The UN Guiding Principles were endorsed by the Human Rights Council in 2011 and are premised on the ‘Protect, Respect and Remedy’ framework, which establishes that states have a duty to protect human rights and companies have a responsibility to respect human rights. Effective remedies must be available to redress violations of those rights…

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