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Gaps in corporate accountability need greater attention, civil society groups say


A coalition of civil society groups, including CESR, is calling for stronger international protection against corporate human rights abuses. The call comes as the mandate of the Special Representative of the UN Secretary General on human rights and business, John Ruggie, is ending in June.

In a statement, the groups called on governments to uphold their duty to protect human rights, and for companies to meet their responsibility to respect human rights, to advance the protection of human rights in relation to business activity.

The groups are concerned that a new report on business and human rights currently being finalized for the UN will not go far enough to help those most vulnerable.

While welcoming the work done by the Special Representative to develop a framework of principles reflecting the human rights responsibilities of businesses and states, the groups called on the UN Human Rights Council to take more effective steps to address the major obstacles to corporate accountability which continue to deny victims access to justice and redress. These include creating a new UN mechanism to examine how these principles are applied in practice and developing stronger international standards which address the current gaps in legal protection.

The process towards the adoption of a normative human rights framework applicable to companies has been slow and controversial. At the end of 2010, John Ruggie, the UN Special Representative on business and human rights, invited comments on a set of draft guiding principles addressing the respective human rights responsibilities of states and companies.

The latest statement expressing concern was signed by 55 organizations, including CESR.