Report on the relationship between human rights due diligence and determinations of corporate liability

1 June 2018
High Commissioner for Human Rights
Thirty-eighth session of the Human Rights Council


The OHCHR Accountability and Remedy Project (ARP) began in 2014 with the aim of delivering credible and workable recommendations for enhancing accountability and access to remedy in cases of business-related human rights abuse (background on each phase of ARP).

Following the first phase of the project (ARP I), focused on enhancing the effectiveness of judicial mechanisms, the Human Rights Council adopted resolution 32/10, in which it requested OHCHR to convene two multi-stakeholder consultations to follow up on the recommendations of the ARP I report.

The first consultation was held in Geneva in October 2017 and looked at the relationship between human rights due diligence (as described in the UNGPs) and determinations of corporate liability under national law for business-related human rights abuse. Over 60 experts participated in the consultation, representing States, intergovernmental organizations, national human rights institutions, non-governmental organizations, business, legal practitioners, and academia.

Following the event, OHCHR developed a report informed by the discussion and submitted it to the Human Rights Council at its 38th session in June 2018.

In June 2020, OHCHR built upon this work and released an issues paper on legislative proposals for mandatory human rights due diligence by companies, which unpacks some of the main choices, complexities and policy trade-offs that policy-makers and legislators considering mandatory human rights due diligence legislation will be confronted with, and covers some of the advantages and disadvantages of different courses of action. A shorter document on key considerations provides a summary of some of these points, with a focus on the EU context.

Follow-up work on this topic is currently being conducted through the fourth phase of the project (ARP IV).

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This report provides analysis and clarification of the relationship between human rights due diligence (HRDD) and determinations of corporate liability.  In addition to deconstructing HRDD and its relationship to corporate liability, the report explores the issue of mandatory HRDD, as well as the relationships between HRDD and

  • negligence
  • defenses to liability
  • secondary liability, and
  • determinations of sanctions and remedies.

Additionally, the report discusses the importance of reaching out to practitioners, policymakers, and civil society regarding these topics.


Documents associated with the October 2017 consultation on the relevance of human rights due diligence to determinations of corporate liability include:

The following documents build upon OHCHR’s report in this area: