As the reach and impact of business enterprises has amplified across the world, there has been increased debate in recent years about their roles and responsibilities with regard to human rights. The Edinburgh Declaration sets out collective commitments of National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) to engage proactively with corporate human rights responsibility and abuses, including with reference to the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. Through our Business and Human Rights Working Group, we facilitate collaborate work on this topic.

The Working Group looks at the links between human rights and business, particularly the ways in which the private sector can help improve the human rights situation in Europe. It has recently focused on the use of National Action Plans to protect, respect and remedy the human rights impacts of business. We have also engaged on this topic with international and regional actors, including the UN, Council of the EU, European Commission and European Parliament, as well as the Council of Europe’s Steering Committee on Human Rights (CDDH).

In 2018, we made a statement in relation to a binding treaty on transnational corporations and other business enterprises with respect to human rights at the fourth session of the UN Open-ended intergovernmental working group on transnational corporations and other business enterprises with respect to human rights.

UN Human Rights Council Download: ENNHRI Statement on the ‘Zero Draft’ of the proposed business and human rights treaty

We also published a statement based on our intervention at the Council of Europe’s CDDH Plenary meeting on 21 June 2018 in Strasbourg, highlighting a number of business-related human rights challenges.

In 2017, we presented a submission to the Council of Europe regarding Recommendation CM/Rec(2016)3 of the Committee of Ministers to Member States on the human rights implications of privatising or contracting out public services, calling on Member States to step up efforts to establish a practice of human rights impact assessment in this area. Also, in 2015, we made a submission to the European Commission in relation to its new strategy on Corporate and Social Responsibility.

Business & Human Rights Working Group

Our Business and Human Rights Working Group brings together 14 European NHRIs. It acts as a hub of experts in this are and a platform to exchange knowledge, good practices and challenges that NHRIs face when working on business and human rights. It also coordinates engagement with regional actors at the level of the European Union and the Council of Europe.

At the international level, in the GANHRI Working Group on Business and Human Rights, ENNHRI is represented by the German NHRI (chair) and the Portuguese NHRI.

Chair

Elin Wrzoncki – Danish Institute for Human Rights

Current members

NHRIs of: Armenia, Croatia, Denmark, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Great Britain, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Northern Ireland, Portugal, Scotland and Slovakia