Business and human rights

Businesses have responsibilities for protecting and promoting human rights.

You can read a report for the Commission on Business and Human Rights National Action Plans: Comparative Review of Global Best Practice that reviews National Action Plans around the world and our summary and recommendations in April 2019.

You can read more about our work on business and human rights with Scotland's National Action Plan for Human Rights (SNAP)

In June 2017 the European Network of National Human Rights Institutions (of which the Commission is a member) released a joint statement on the human rights implications of privatising or contracting out public services.

At the 35th session of the UN Human Rights Council, in June 2017, the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission gave an oral statement on behalf of the NIHRC, the Scottish Human Rights Commission and the Equality and Human Rights Commission, in response to the working group on the issue of human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises: you can read the statement here, or see it in video form.

In 2008 Professor John Ruggie, UN Special Representative on Business and Human Rights, proposed a policy framework for better managing business and human rights challenges. It is based on three pillars:

  • the state duty to protect against human rights abuses by third parties, including business

  • the corporate responsibility to respect human rights

  • the need for greater access by victims to effective remedy, judicial and non-judicial.

Read the Ruggie Protect, Respect and Remedy Framework.


The Commission has worked on a number of projects relating to business and human rights.

Public Procurement

Business and Mega Sporting Events

Building on over a year of collaboration with the Commission, the Glasgow Games Organising Committee, for the first time in over 80 years of Commonwealth Games history, adopted a human rights policy for the Games. The policy set out how human rights would be protected and promoted in the preparation and delivery of the Glasgow Games, including respecting freedoms, promoting participation and adopting a sustainable procurement policy.

See our news report from 2014 for more details.



National Action Plan

As part of Scotland's National Action Plan for Human Rights, the Commission, with a number of stakeholders and the Scottish Government. has started a process for the development of an Action Plan on Business and Human Rights in Scotland.

Both the European Union and the United Nations have called for the development of National Action Plans (NAPs) to support the implementation of the UNGPs. Since 2011 a number of governments have developed NAPs. The first stage of a wider consultative process is the Scotland’s National Baseline Assessment on Business and Human Rights which is the basis for understanding the issues and opening up dialogue with a range of stakeholders about Scotland’s priorities in relation to business and human rights.

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