European NHRIs adopt a Common Position on the human rights implications of privatising or contracting out public services

Participants at a demonstration against Sussex University Privatisation © Serena Cheung Flickr

The work carried out by ENNHRI members suggests that there are gaps in law, policy and practice across European states in relation to human rights and public procurement. In a Statement released on 9 June, European NHRIs call the CoE Member States to step up efforts to establish a practice of human rights impact assessment in this area.

NHRIs’ findings were presented on 9 June in a High Level Seminar on Human Rights and Business hosted by the Council of Europe. The Seminar raised awareness about the Recommendation adopted by the Committee of Ministers, which provides guidance on the implementation of the United Nations (UN) Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGP) at European Level.

Prof. Nicola Jägers, Commissioner at the Netherlands Institute for Human Rights, attended the meeting on behalf of ENNHRI, and presented a range of human rights impacts linked to privatisation and contracting out of public services in Europe identified by NHRIs across Europe. Based on this research, European NHRIs call the CoE Member States to step up efforts to establish a practice of human rights impact assessment in this area.

Prof. Jägers called the Seminar a welcome occasion to address the business and human rights challenges within the European region. She highlighted the unique opportunity that the CoE Recommendation provides to develop and follow-up National Action Plans and to enhance coherence in the field of business and human rights in Europe. The Recommendation also specifies that National Contact Points established under the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises should be adequately resourced, and their visibility ensured.

States are encouraged to actively involve and consult with their independent National Human Rights Institutions, as NHRIs conduct human rights promotion and protection activities and design tools which may be adapted and used across European States such as the practical guidance developed by NHRIs in Denmark and Great Britain in relation to public procurement and human rights. You can read the Statement here.