Occupational health and safety, wages that safeguard people’s livelihoods, the freedom to form unions and the freedom of association, as well as the prohibition of child and forced labour, the protection of indigenous peoples’ rights and the protection of the environment – these are examples of human rights standards that companies should respect along their entire supply and value chains.
The UN Guiding Principles are based on existing human rights obligations such as the International Bill of Human Rights and the ILO’s core labour standards.
As an international framework, they formulate requirements for politics and business and, for the first time, constitute a generally recognised point of reference for human rights obligations of states and for the responsibility of companies in global supply and value chains. The UN Guiding Principles were elaborated during a six-year research and consultation process under the direction of then Special Representative of the Secretary-General on human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises, Prof. John Ruggie.
The UN Guiding Principles have become firmly established as a frame of reference for many international organisations working in the realm of business and human rights, including the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in particular.
In their revised version of 2011, containing specific recommendations relating to corporate respect for human rights, the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises are expressly based on the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. Germany is committed to this important OECD instrument and has set up a National Contact Point (NCP) for the OECD Guidelines as an out-of-court grievance mechanism.