On 4 September, the UK introduced a new national action plan entitled “Good Business: Implementing the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights”. The action plan is intended to help UK companies understand and manage human rights and to articulate the UK Government’s expectations about business behaviour, both in the UK and overseas.
The UK plan follows the structure of the UN Guiding Principles, setting out the UK’s duty to protect rights, the obligations of businesses domiciled in the UK to respect rights, and access to remedy when rights abuses are a result of corporate activity.
Speaking at the launch of the Action Plan, Professor John Ruggie, former UN Special Representative for Business and Human Rights, said:
The UK action plan embodies a fundamental premise of the Guiding Principles: that the era of declaratory corporate social responsibility is over. It is no longer enough for governments to act as though promoting CSR initiatives somehow absolved them of their obligations to govern in this domain, and to do so in the public interest. It is no longer enough for companies to claim they respect human rights; they must know and show that they do. And it is no longer enough for rights-holders merely to harbor the hope that governments and companies will fulfill their respective obligations; they are entitled to demand remedy for harm done.
The UK invites other countries to fully commit to their international obligations and the UN Guiding Principles by introducing analogue action plans in their jurisdictions and implementing activities and regulations that will enable companies worldwide to rely on a clear set of principles and obligations.
The Action Plan is available here.