Business & Human Rights: From Principles to Action


11 November, 2016



2016 marks five years since the UN Human Rights Council endorsed the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs), establishing an authoritative global standard on the respective roles of businesses and governments in helping ensure that companies respect human rights in their own operations and through their business relationships.

This issue brief sets out to succinctly highlight some of the key developments that have characterized the business and human rights landscape in the relatively short period since the UNGPs were launched, exploring areas in which business has made progress in the implementation of this agenda, and identifying enduring challenges moving forward. 

In doing so, it draws upon analysis of human rights reporting trends among the membership of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD). It also frames the evolving business and human rights discussion in the context of the Sustainable Development Goals which have introduced a new sustainable business paradigm since their launch in September 2015.

Ultimately, the brief underlines a strong sense that the work of embedding the UNGPs into practice is maturing fast and moving in a positive direction, driven by an evolving regulatory environment, enhanced scrutiny of business performance and an increasingly widespread array of guidance, frameworks of toolkits.