The UNGPs: 10 years on, 10 years forward

On the 7th December the Norwegian Centre for Human Rights hosted the Annual seminar on business and human rights as a part of the Oslo Peace Days. The annual seminar on business and human rights gives an opportunity for all stakeholders to come together and discuss the business and human rights field. This year, the panel was represented by academia, government, and civil society. 

Image of three speakers (Gentian Zyber, Kristel Tonstad and Heidi Furustøl)

Illustration photo: Emma Verngård/NCHR

The 10th anniversary of the UNGPs

No other area of human rights has gained so much attention so quickly as the business and human rights field. This year marked 10 years since the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGP’s) was unanimously endorsed by the UN Human Rights Council.

The UNGP’s have had an enormous impact on the world. It has given us the framework to better understand, discuss and implement human rights protection for individuals who are the victims of adverse impacts by corporations. 

Discussing current issues

One example of this, which was discussed by the panelists was transparency laws. In the last ten years we have seen a wave of global supply chain transparency laws in North America and across Europe. Norway will be another one of these countries on the 1st of July when the transparency law enters into force. This will make human rights due diligence reporting mandatory for over 8000 businesses in Norway.

This type of legislation, in many ways inspired by the UNGP’s, will have an important role in holding corporations accountable for human rights violations everywhere. It will also force corporations to not merely make lavish claims of support for human rights and environmental issues to improve their reputations but do the work. Transparency laws are also challenging the idea that business and human rights is only soft law. 

Furthermore, as environmental issues are being brought to the forefront as we tackle both global warming and biodiversity loss, questions of human rights and the environment will be seen more and more in combination. These issues are often cross-cutting, and it is important for corporations to understand the interplay between the environment and human rights. 

Looking towards the future

In many ways, the business and human rights field will be defined by the next decade and how we tackle current challenges with implementation. Whilst countries are passing transparency law legislation, making global supply chains more transparent, the UN working group is also continuing work on a draft of a potential treaty on business and human rights.

Tags: Human Rights, Business and Human Rights, NCHR, NCHR International Department, UNGP By Victoria Skeie
Published Jan. 20, 2022 12:18 PM - Last modified Mar. 11, 2022 9:38 AM