Business & human rights - European Group agreement

Representatives from National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) from more than 20 countries have met in Berlin for a three day workshop to develop an action plan for the European group of NHRIs with respect to Business and Human Rights.

The Workshop was organised by the German Institute for Human Rights with assistance from the Scottish Human Rights Commission and the Danish Institute for Human Rights, and support from the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development and the Global Compact Network Germany.

Human rights experts from the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, International Labour Organisation, European Commission, and civil society organisations also contributed to the event.

The Action Plan from the Berlin Meeting can be downloaded here.

Professor Alan Miller, Chair of the Scottish Human Rights Commission and of the European Group of NHRIs said: "One of the areas we need to focus on in the coming year that we identified in Berlin is the European Council’s Strategic Framework and Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy and the decision from EU Member States to develop in 2013 national plans for implementation of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, in line with the European Commission’s renewed strategy for CSR from October 2011.

"We will involve ourselves in the process at a national levels as well as at the European level to guarantee that these national action plans fulfill their potential."

Michael Windfuhr, deputy director of the German Institute for Human Rights said: "The workshop allowed NHRIs to exchange experiences on the ways they can best implement their mandate to promote and protect human rights in relation to business activities.

"The challenges are huge in times of globalization to struggle for a recognition and protection of human rights in business activities."

The United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human rights, adopted 2011 by the Human Rights Council (link), provides a common framework for such action. The Guiding Principles are also broadly welcomed by the business sector.

The European NHRIs decided in Berlin to become more active in the area of Business and Human Rights and also to collectively influence developments at the European and international levels.

You can find out more about business and human rights in Scotland on these pages.