Business and Human Rights Remedies

Many business activities have an impact on human rights; whether these impacts are positive or negative depends upon the approaches taken by the state and the business community. A business might hire workers through a company that subjects them to forced labor and harassment.

According to international standards on business and human rights, state authorities and business enterprises must respect, protect and fulfill all human and labor rights. These standards are articulated in a number of different international treaties, guidelines, and frameworks. For instance, the European Union has granted General Scheme of Preference Plus (GSP+) status to Pakistan; under the status, Pakistan should implement 15 human and labor rights conventions. The UNGPs reinforce key standards articulated in these 15 conventions.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said that “The United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights provide a roadmap of the actions that both states and companies must take to prevent business-related human rights abuse, and to provide effective remedy and justice.”

The key obligations under UNGP – The duty of the state to protect human rights abuses, including those committed by third parties, also the corporate responsibility to respect human rights in business activities (i.e. to ensure that they do not interfere with the human rights of others) and address any negative impacts of their business activities on human rights. Moreover, the responsibility of the states and businesses to, respectively, ensure victims of abuse have access to effective remedy and grievance mechanism.

Provide access to judicial and non-judicial grievance mechanism to victims of human rights abuses involving businesses. The government may create policies and processes that commit them to respect human rights. These policies and processes should include human rights due diligence process to identify, prevent, mitigate and account for how the businesses address their human rights impacts as well as processes to remedy adverse human rights impacts due to their activities.

Provide or cooperate in grievance mechanisms that seek to remedy adverse human rights impacts linked to their activities. Remedies may be provided through state-based processes, such as the courts, or non-state-based processes, including industry, multi-stakeholder and/or other collaborative initiatives.

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