Governments: A Catalyst in Business and Human Rights



In November, the United Nations Forum on Business and Human Rights took place in Geneva, focussing on governments and their role as catalysts for business respect for human rights.

Participants looked at what governments need to do to foster business respect for human rights, including by creating the right incentives and frameworks and by acting as role models.

The next Forum is scheduled to take place on 16-18 November 2020 in Geneva.

The main messages delivered at the forum suggested that governments should:

  • Introduce regulatory measures: The smart mix of measures, as referred to in the United Nations Guiding Principles of Business and Human Rights (UNGP), needs to also encompass regulatory intervention for it to be effective and meaningful in advancing respect for human rights. Not only investors, consumers and civil society are demanding legislation. Leading progressive businesses have also come to realise that effective regulation is the key ingredient to establish a level playing field and abide by the same rules. Recent figures by the Corporate Human Rights Benchmark speak to the fact that the vast majority of companies are nowhere close to meeting their responsibility to respect human rights
  • Lead by example with Responsible Business Conduct: Norway announced the release of a draft law on “transparency in supply chains” and the OECD presented its project on public procurement and responsible business conduct (RBC).

At this year’s Forum there was also a sharper focus on issues raised by technologies: access to remedy, abuse of social media platforms, and artificial intelligence. Attendees also addressed the role of:

  • benchmarking in equipping stakeholders to hold companies accountable;
  • investors and their recognition of salient human rights issues as part of their decision-making.


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amfori’s position

amfori is among those organisations calling for a level playing field at the European level on human rights due diligence.

In line with a clear call for the protection of human rights defenders at the forum, amfori has previously provided a statement on human rights defenders.

Complementary resources

To help your company’s due diligence efforts, check out these relevant resources: