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Corporate social responsibility in the field of human rights

Presentation

Companies have, especially when it comes to transnational or multinational enterprises, become increasingly powerful. While they generally bring benefits to society by creating employment, producing goods, rendering services and generating tax revenues, they may sometimes have an adverse impact on the enjoyment of human rights. The question of the accountability for human rights violations by companies has been a subject of debate at both international and national levels.

The term “corporate social responsibility” has been used to describe a mechanism by which companies take responsibility for their actions, ensure active compliance with ethical standards and international human rights instruments, and encourage positive impact through their activities on society and human rights. With the endorsement of the UN Guiding Principles for the Implementation of the ‘Protect, Respect and Remedy’ Framework by the UN Human Rights Council, on 16 June 2011, the topic has received fresh impetus in international fora.

The Council of Europe has undertaken concrete action in the field since 2010, when Parliamentary Assembly adopted  Resolution 1757 and Recommendation 1936 on "Human rights and Business". In 2011, the Committee of Ministers requested the Steering Committee for Human Rights (CDDH) to elaborate a study on the feasibility and the added value of new standard-setting work of the Council of Europe on corporate social responsibility in the field on human rights. To this purpose, the CDDH first prepared a preliminary document listing the existing standards and outstanding issues in the field.

On this basis, the Committee of Ministers instructed the CDDH at the beginning of 2013 to elaborate, by the end of 2015, a political declaration supporting the UN Guiding Principles as well as a non-binding instrument, which may include a guide of good practice, addressing gaps in the implementation of the Guiding Principles at the European level. To perform these tasks, the Drafting Group on Human Rights and Business (CDDH-CORP) has been set up and has already held two meetings (14-16 October 2013 and 12-14 February 2014).

At the first meeting, the Group elaborated a Declaration of the Committee of Ministers supporting the UN Guiding Principles, which was approved by the CDDH at its 79th meeting (26-29 November 2013) and subsequently adopted by the Committee of Ministers on 16 April 2014. For more information, see the reports of the respective meetings which are available below.

PowerPoint Presentation on CSR in the field of human rights: the Council of Europe’s contribution to the implementation of the UN Guiding Principles, by Jörg Polakiewicz, former Head of Human Rights Policy and Development Department.

Documents of the Drafting group on Human Rights and Business (CDDH-CORP)

2014

3rd meeting of the CDDH-CORP
24-26 September 2014, Strasbourg
Agenda Meeting report

2nd meeting of the CDDH-CORP
12-14 February 2014, Strasbourg

Agenda Meeting report
     

2013

1st meeting of the CDDH-CORP
14-16 October 2013, Strasbourg

Agenda

Meeting report