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Clifford Chance

Clifford Chance


Business and Human Rights: Navigating a Changing Legal Landscape

19 March 2019

Businesses are increasingly required to implement human rights due diligence processes and/or to report on how they manage human rights-related issues. In our third joint briefing, the Global Business Initiative on Human Rights and Clifford Chance consider these developments, focusing on what companies need to know to position themselves to navigate the changing legal landscape.

An increased regulatory focus on business' human rights responsibilities was envisaged by the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGP) –the authoritative global framework for addressing business-related human rights risks. Governments and regulators are beginning to use mandatory reporting and due diligence requirements to prompt businesses to address their human rights impacts. More regulation is likely to follow.

These initiatives follow legal and regulatory developments in other areas of responsible business conduct, such as bribery and corruption, health and safety, and environmental risks. Whilst any increase in legal requirements can be uncomfortable for companies, regulation may also be welcomed where it clarifies expectations of companies and creates a level playing field.

Regulation will only achieve this if it is well-designed. As new legislative initiatives continue to be tabled for discussion, there is a window of opportunity for businesses to help shape these developments to ensure they are practicable as well as effective at preventing, and addressing, adverse human rights impacts.

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