UN Global Compact boss Sanda Ojiambo announces support for mandatory human rights due diligence

UN Global Compact boss Sanda Ojiambo announces support for mandatory human rights due diligence

The United Nations Global Compact has announced their strong support for mandatory human rights due diligence during a speech by CEO and Executive Director Sanda Ojiambo at the 9th Annual UN Forum on Business and Human Rights.

The prevention of human rights violations and abuses is central to the mission of the United Nations Global Compact and its Ten Principles for responsible business conduct.

Companies that focus on protecting human rights — and cultivate positive relationships with their stakeholders — can help ensure their business’ continued growth and social license to operate.

“Protecting the well-being and dignity of every person means preventing human rights abuses in business operations and value chains worldwide,” Ms. Ojiambo said, adding that the UN Global Compact “fully supports all efforts to develop legislation on mandatory human rights and environmental due diligence.”

Her remarks come ahead of the tenth anniversary of the UN Guiding Principles, widely referred to as “UNGPs”, in June 2021. Endorsed unanimously by the UN in 2011, the UNGPs launched a new era for business and human rights.

Ms. Ojiambo further remarked that “relying solely on voluntary measures simply will not get us where we need to be” to meet corporate responsibility to respect human rights as described in the UN Guiding Principles for Business and Human Rights. These authoritative principles call on Governments to implement a “smart mix of measures” — both voluntary, mandatory, national and international — to foster business respect for human rights rather than assuming that businesses prefer or benefit from State inaction.

Speaking at the Forum’s High-Level Plenary, she emphasized that although the UNGPs have led to important achievements, much more is needed to realise their vision of “tangible results for affected individuals and communities, and thereby also contributing to a socially sustainable globalization.”

As the world’s foremost gathering in this field, the annual Forum provides a unique space for dialogue between governments, international organizations, businesses, industry associations, trade unions, civil society organizations, human rights defenders, affected individuals and academics on current trends, challenges and best practices in preventing and addressing business-related human rights abuses.

Over three days, participants in the virtual Forum discuss trends, challenges and progress in advancing implementation of the UNGPs in all regions of the world and examine a selected number of key current business and human rights issues.

The Forum is guided and chaired by the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights and is organized by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).