Understanding BHR

The Protect, Respect, Remedy Framework
Business and human rights recognizes that while businesses can be powerful drivers of development and the realization of economic rights, they can also have adverse impacts on workers, local communities, and other rights-holders. 

“Business and human rights” is the idea that all businesses, regardless of factors such as size and location, should respect human rights such as those to freedom of association, a clean and healthy environment, and freedom from forced labour. Business and human rights (BHR) recognizes that while businesses can be powerful drivers of development and the realization of economic rights, they can also have adverse impacts on workers, local communities, and other rights-holders. 

The business and human rights framework is set out in the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs). You can read more about the UNGPs here. Governments, civil society, international organizations, and multinational corporations have increasingly recognized the importance of BHR in recent years; these developments are being translated into national law, international legal frameworks, business norms, and voluntary initiatives. Customers are also increasingly demanding that the businesses they support have respect for human rights. 

Business and human rights also overlaps with a number of other agendas, including environmentalism, sustainable development, corporate social responsibility, and anticorruption; read more here

You can read more about State duty to protect here and business responsibility to respect here. You can also read about access to remedy — which should be provided through both State and non-State mechanisms — here

Pinned Articles

Human Rights Watch – World Report 2022. Events of 2021

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Putting Eastern Europe and Central Asia on the business and human rights agenda

In these countries, the narrative has been “development now, everything else later” – with that “everything else” encompassing the environment, sustainability and human rights.

How Can Businesses Impact Human Rights?

This concise table includes a summary list of internationally recognized human rights, provides a short explanation of each right, and offers examples of how business activities could impact the right.

Video: Business and Human Rights in Central and Eastern Europe – Forum on Business and Human Rights 2020

The first Regional Forum on Business and Human Rights in the Eastern Europe and Central Asia convened representatives from governments, national human rights institutions, civil society, business and labour organisations at the regional level and also international level to discuss business and human rights. The Forum provided an opportunity to raise awareness of and promote implementation of the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs) in the region. Moreover, the Regional Forum explored how existing vulnerabilities have been amplified and exposed by the COVID-19 crisis and discussed the need to view the crisis as an opportunity to drive change and build back better.

Key Terms on Business and Human Rights

This glossary provides standard definitions for key terminology on the topic of business and human rights.

Introduction to Salient Human Rights Issues

Salient human rights issues: The human rights at risk of the most severe negative impact through the company’s activities and business relationships.

UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights – Translations

The UNGPs are currently available in English, Russian, and Serbian.

First Regional Forum on Business and Human Rights in Eastern Europe and Central Asia: Key problems and opportunities

Business reluctance to engage with human rights issues was a common theme during the First Regional Forum on Business and Human Rights in Eastern Europe and Central Asia. Across the region – which includes the Balkans and the Caucasus – representatives from governments, businesses and civil society expressed a general lack of willingness to work on business and human rights.

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