United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs)

Document de Recherche 138, octobre 2021


Par Daniel Uribe Terán

Le débat sur la nécessité d’imposer des obligations de diligence raisonnable en matière de droits de l’homme (DDDH, en anglais Human Rights Due Diligence, ou HRDD) a suscité l’intérêt des décideurs politiques, des organisations de la société civile et des organisations internationales. La tendance actuelle à l’adoption de législations nationales concernant les normes de HRDD montre une variété d’options et de modèles qui pourraient servir d’étape vers l’adoption d’un cadre international solide de responsabilité des entreprises et de recours en cas de violation des droits de l’homme dans le contexte des activités commerciales.

Ce document de recherche vise à identifier les éléments qui caractérisent la diligence raisonnable en matière de droits de l’homme afin de trouver une éventuelle définition commune pour sa mise en œuvre. Pour ce faire, il analyse les pratiques actuelles des régions et des États en matière d’adoption de législations obligatoires sur HRDD dans différents secteurs. Enfin, il discutera des principes qui caractérisent l’approche adoptée par le Groupe de travail intergouvernemental à composition non limitée des Nations Unies chargé d’adopter un instrument juridiquement contraignant sur les sociétés transnationales et autres entreprises et de la manière dont cet instrument pourrait servir de pierre angulaire à l’élaboration de règles modernes sur la question des entreprises et des droits de l’homme.


Documento de Investigación 138, Octubre de 2021

Más allá de la responsabilidad social de las empresas: reforzar la diligencia debida en materia de derechos humanos mediante el Instrumento jurídicamente vinculante sobre empresas y derechos humanos

Por Daniel Uribe Terán

El debate sobre la necesidad de establecer requisitos obligatorios de debida diligencia en materia de derechos humanos (en inglés: Human Rights Due Diligence, o HRDD) ha atraído el interés de los responsables políticos, las organizaciones de la sociedad civil y las organizaciones internacionales. La tendencia actual sobre la adopción de la legislación nacional relativa a las normas de HRDD muestra una variedad de opciones y modelos que podrían servir como un paso adelante hacia la adopción de un marco internacional sólido de responsabilidad corporativa y remedio en caso de violaciones de los derechos humanos en el contexto de las actividades empresariales.

Este documento de investigación pretende identificar los elementos que caracterizan la debida diligencia en materia de derechos humanos para encontrar una posible definición común para su aplicación. Para ello, se analiza la práctica regional y estatal actual en la adopción de legislación obligatoria sobre HRDD en diferentes sectores. Por último, se discutirán los principios que caracterizan el enfoque adoptado por el Grupo de Trabajo Intergubernamental de Composición Abierta de las Naciones Unidas encargado de adoptar un instrumento jurídicamente vinculante sobre las empresas transnacionales y otras empresas comerciales y cómo este instrumento podría servir como una importante piedra angular para la elaboración de normas modernas sobre la cuestión de las empresas y los derechos humanos.


Research Paper 138, October 2021

Beyond Corporate Social Responsibility: Strengthening Human Rights Due Diligence through the Legally Binding Instrument on Business and Human Rights

by Daniel Uribe Terán

The discussion on the need for mandatory human rights due diligence (HRDD) requirements has permeated the interests of policy makers, civil society organizations and international organizations. The current trend on the adoption of domestic legislation concerning HRDD standards shows a variety of options and models that might serve as a step forward to the adoption of a strong international framework of corporate accountability and remedy for human rights violations in the context of business activities.

This research paper aims at identifying the elements that characterize human rights due diligence to find a possible common definition for its implementation. It does so through analysing current regional and State practice in the adoption of mandatory HRDD legislation in different sectors. Finally, it will discuss the principles that characterize the approach taken by the United Nations Open-ended Intergovernmental Working Group in charge of adopting a Legally Binding Instrument on transnational corporations and other business enterprises and how it could serve as an important cornerstone for modern rule making on the issue of business and human rights.


SouthViews No. 229, 25 October 2021

The Post COVID-19 Recovery: A Stringent Test for the Business and Human Rights Discourse

By H.E. Ambassador Luis Benigno Gallegos Chiriboga

Although the global economic outlook seems to be improving for the rest of 2021 and 2022, such benefits seem to only affect developed economies, while furthering the gap with emerging markets and developing economies. This shows that ‘recovery for all’ will remain gloomy for several years, as access to the COVID-19 vaccine continues to showcase the global inequalities between the rich and the poor. In this scenario, States require to make full use of their regulatory and policy space to protect and promote the human rights of all people and persons in their jurisdictions, including the right to health, while safeguarding the necessary fiscal space towards guaranteeing development expenditures to build back fairer and better. It is time for reducing inequalities rather than increasing the gap between developed and developing nations.


Report on Human Rights-Compatible International Investment Agreements, August 2021

Virtual Consultation in support of the UN Working Group’s 2021 Report to the UN General Assembly on Human Rights-Compatible International Investment Agreements

South Centre, 23 June 2021

Foreign direct investment (FDI) should support States’ efforts to “bring the SDGs and goals of the Paris Agreement to life for all people, everywhere.” However, achievement of these objectives is slowed down in the current situation where investor-State dispute settlement (ISDS) mechanisms are included in international investment agreements (IIAs). These mechanisms have increased the exposure of States to claims from foreign investors against regulatory measures taken to protect and guarantee a clean and safe environment, public health, human rights, social inclusion, and poverty reduction.

In the current scenario marked by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, FDI can be a valuable source of financing a better and fairer recovery, including investment needed to achieve the full realisation of all human rights. But to achieve this potential, there is a need to reshape the international investment regime, including through the reform of its substantive rules and standards, as well as of the ISDS mechanisms embedded in existing IIAs.

The South Centre and the United Nations Working Group on human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises convened a virtual consultation to identify and assess the different challenges developing countries face while negotiating or reforming IIAs in line with their international human rights obligations. The virtual consultation aimed at highlighting and discussing some of the most common concerns and challenges those developing countries face in the promotion of responsible investment practices, including an exploratory discussion about balancing the rights and obligations of investors in IIAs and safeguarding the sovereign right of States to regulate in the public interest for building back better and fairer in face of the COVID-19 pandemic. It also discussed possible reforms of the ISDS mechanism.


SouthViews No. 217, 14 May 2021

Financing for development from the perspective of the right to development

 Summaries of two reports by Saad Alfarargi, Special Rapporteur on the right to development

In 2020, the United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteur on the right to development, Saad Alfarargi, submitted two reports, one to the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) and the other to the UN General Assembly, on the issue of financing for development (FFD) from the perspective of the right to development (RTD). The first report (A/HRC/45/15) analyzed national-level FFD, while the second report (A/75/167) focused on the international dimension of FFD. In both reports the Special Rapporteur highlighted relevant challenges, with a particular focus on how to ensure the meaningful participation of rights-holders.


SouthViews No. 212, 28 January 2021

The Right to Development and its Role in International Economic Law

By Olasupo Owoeye

This paper provides a brief discussion on the right to development and examines some of the criticisms often raised against its significance as a cognizable human right. The paper argues that the principles encapsulated in the right to development represent the foundational principles of the international legal order. The right to development is therefore both a human right and an economic right. Thus, the principles it embodies are not only incorporated into the International Bill of Human Rights, they are also well reflected in World Trade Organization agreements and the field of international economic law. The paper argues that the right to development can play an important role in the interpretation and enforcement of rights under international economic law.


Submission on 3rd Intersessional Meeting for Dialogue and Cooperation on Human Rights & 2030 Agenda for SDGs,, January 2021

South Centre’s Submission to the 3rd Intersessional Meeting for Dialogue and Cooperation on Human Rights and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development

Strengthening human rights for fighting inequalities and building back better

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a global crisis without precedent in modern history. Its effects have not been felt equally among all countries as it has exacerbated the profound economic and social inequalities affecting the most vulnerable. In light of the lessons, we have learned – and are still learning – from the fight against COVID-19 pandemic, the 3rd Intersessional Meeting for Dialogue and Cooperation on Human Rights and the 2030 Agenda serves as a vital opportunity to understand the needs and realities of those who are still ‘left behind’.


Publication on Designing an International Legally Binding Instrument on Business and Human Rights, July 2020

Designing an International Legally Binding Instrument on Business and Human Rights

By Daniel Uribe and Danish

The present document is substantially based on the background materials prepared by the South Centre (authored by Kinda Mohamadieh, Daniel Uribe, and Danish) for various sessions of the Open-Ended Intergovernmental Working Group on transnational corporations and other business enterprises with respect to human rights (OEIGWG), established by Resolution 26/9 of the Human Rights Council, held since 2015.

The objective of this document is to provide support material for State delegations and other stakeholders for the negotiation of a binding international instrument to regulate, in international human rights law, the activities of transnational corporations and other business enterprises. The document considers a number of issues and technical details that have been addressed during the different sessions of the OEIGWG.



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