UN Human Rights approach to engagement with the business sector

The United Nations has a longstanding history of engagement with the business sector. Resolution 55/215, adopted by the UN General Assembly in 2001, stressed that partnerships with the private sector could contribute in a positive manner to meet the challenges of globalization and ensure that it becomes a positive force for all.

The 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals reaffirmed the role of the private sector in achieving sustainable development and called on “all businesses to apply their creativity and innovation to solving sustainable development challenges”. SDG 17 recognizes multi-stakeholder partnerships as important vehicles for mobilizing and sharing knowledge, expertise, technologies and financial resources to support the achievement of the sustainable development goals.

A framework for United Nations engagement with business has been in place since 2000 and was updated in 2015 to reflect core elements of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. In line with this framework, many UN agencies, funds and programmes have engaged with the business sector through global and local implementation partnerships with a view to more effectively advancing their mandates. The UN Human Rights Office is following this UN wide trend, seeking to enhance its own engagement with the business sector.

Engagement with the business sector is pursued in a manner that is compatible with international human rights standards and principles, and with OHCHR’s mandate to protect and promote human rights globally. OHCHR’s engagement with the business sector is guided by the following principles:

  • shared values, principles and goals;
  • integrity and independence
  • accountability
  • transparency
  • diversity of engagement
  • due diligence.

More details on the UN Human Rights Office’s policy and existing partnership can be found in the side bar.