Date and location: 25-27 November 2019, Geneva (Switzerland)
Theme: "Time to act: Governments as catalysts for business respect for human rights"
Programme: Link to Forum programme
Registration: Link to registration
Live stream from Room XX: Live stream frame
Webcast: Link to UN Web TV
Documents: Practical information for participants
Statements and submissions
Background reading:
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About the Forum

The UN annual Forum on Business and Human Rights is the global platform for stock-taking and lesson-sharing on efforts to move the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights from paper to practice. As the world’s foremost gathering in this area, it provides a unique space for dialogue between governments, business, civil society, affected groups and international organizations on trends, challenges and good practices in preventing and addressing business-related human rights impacts. The first Forum was held in 2012. It attracts more than 2,000 experts, practitioners and leaders for three days of an action- and solution-oriented dialogue.

The Forum was established by the UN Human Rights Council in 2011  “to discuss trends and challenges in the implementation of the Guiding Principles and promote dialogue and cooperation on issues linked to business and human rights, including challenges faced in particular sectors, operational environments or in relation to specific rights or groups, as well as identifying good practices” (resolution 17/4, paragraph 12).

The Forum addresses all three pillars of the Guiding Principles:

  • The State duty to protect against human rights abuses by third parties, including business, through appropriate policies, regulation and adjudication;
  • The corporate responsibility to respect human rights, which means to avoid infringing on the rights of others and to address adverse impacts with which a business is involved; and
  • The need for access to effective remedy for rights-holders when abuse has occurred, through both judicial and non-judicial grievance mechanisms.

The Forum is guided and chaired by the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights and organized by its Secretariat at the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).

2019 theme: background

Time to act: Governments as catalysts for business respect for human rights

A key message from the 2018 UN Forum on Business and Human Rights was that governments must step up their action and leadership. Currently, they are not doing enough to meet their duty to protect against business-related human rights abuse. While important legal developments are evolving in some jurisdictions, and the number of countries developing national action plans on business and human rights continues to grow, the effectiveness of current efforts and the lack of wider action are being called into question.

The lack of government leadership, reflected in governance gaps and a lack of policy coherence at all levels – national, regional and global – remains a fundamental challenge to ensuring that the human rights and dignity of all are upheld in the context of business activities. These gaps have been a recurrent theme at all Forums since the first edition in 2012, and a key reason for the development of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, which provide the main reference for Forum discussions.

At the Forum, civil society organizations, affected stakeholders and business alike have called on States to step up action, through strengthened regulation, improved policy coherence, and through leading by example in the various roles States have as economic actors.

The 2019 Forum will focus on the need for all governments to demonstrate progress, commitments and plans in implementing the State duty to protect and strengthening accountability. As the Guiding Principles clarify, ensuring access to effective remedy is also a part of the State duty to protect against business-related human rights abuse, and discussions on government action need to address the full spectrum of measures from prevention to remediation.

The Forum agenda will look at what governments need to do to foster business respect for human rights, including by getting their own house in order and by setting clear expectations and creating incentives for responsible business conduct. In doing so, the agenda will consider the Guiding Principles’ call for “a smart mix of measures – national and international, mandatory and voluntary – to foster business respect for human rights” and what this can mean in practice.

Contribute to informing the 2019 Forum discussions: Submit information on government implementation of the UN Guiding Principles