Methods of work
At its 3rd session, the Working Group adopted revised working methods. These are included as an annex to the outcome document of the third session (A/HRC/WG.12/3/1) and are reproduced below.
Working Methods (revised on 30 November 2012)
A/HRC/WG/12/3/1 - E F R S C A
A/HRC/WG/12/3/1/Annex.1 - E F R S C A
Functioning of the Working Group
The Working Group decided to appoint a Chairperson-Rapporteur every two sessions, rotating between members of the Working Group.
The Chairperson-Rapporteur may decide to delegate his/her tasks to other members of the Working Group, following consultation with all other members.
The Working Group further decided to appoint a Vice-Chairperson, to fulfil all duties of the Chairperson when the Chairperson is otherwise unavailable. The Vice-Chairperson will normally be that member of the Working Group who will become Chairperson upon the end of the mandate of the current Chairperson.
The Working Group places great importance on outreach and visiting countries and regions to disseminate and support the implementation of the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.
The Working Group therefore intends to carry out two official country missions per year following invitations from Member States.
Country visits will be conducted in the spirit of promoting constructive dialogue with States and all relevant stakeholders at the national level and to identify, exchange and promote good practices and lessons learned on the implementation of the Guiding Principles. Reports from official country missions will be submitted to the Human Rights Council. Consideration will be given to regional balance in the choice of country missions.
Two members of the Working Group will participate in each country mission. The Chairperson-Rapporteur will decide, in consultation with all other members, which members participate in any particular mission. As per standard practice, the final composition of the visiting delegation will be communicated to the Government concerned during the preparation of the visit.
Subject to available funding, additional visits to countries will be conducted by one or more members of the Working Group, following invitations received. Depending on the scope of the visit, and following consultation with the concerned country, the Working Group may request approval to submit reports from such additional country visits to the Human Rights Council.
In addition to the official country missions and any other visits to Member States, the Working Group aims to carry out its mandate in a manner that includes significant additional, relevant field work, frequently reaching out, consulting and engaging directly with individuals, communities, business enterprises and associations, Government actors, national human rights institutions and other stakeholders across all regions to inform its work and ensure that any findings and recommendations respond to practical and operational realities on the ground.
Individual Working Group members will participate in outreach on the Guiding Principles across all regions as appropriate, for the implementation of the different work streams. Working Group members are not limited to carrying out activities in their respective regions of origin or residence.
Multi-stakeholder, consultative and inclusive approach
Fully recognizing the value and importance of adopting a multi-stakeholder, consultative and inclusive approach to the implementation of its mandate and following the introductory exchanges with Member States and relevant stakeholders held during its first session, the Working Group intends to continue engaging in regular dialogue and cooperation with States, human rights mechanisms, intergovernmental bodies, relevant United Nations entities, regional and national human rights institutions, representatives of business, civil society organizations, representatives of indigenous peoples and any other relevant stakeholders, including representatives of impacted communities.
The Working Group intends to call for input from all relevant stakeholders on general mandate-related issues and/or issues relating to work streams and activities on a regular basis. This will be done in order to solicit information, documentation, good practice, challenges and lessons learned on the implementation of the Guiding Principles. Subject to the specific requirements of different work streams and the availability of adequate funding, the Working Group will also consider other means of consultation with relevant stakeholders, including regional or expert consultations and through country missions. The Forum on Business and Human Rights will also serve as a platform for involving and consulting all relevant stakeholders.
The Working Group is mindful of the work carried out by other treaty bodies and special procedure mandates, and will collaborate with these human rights mechanisms and take into consideration existing standards and initiatives developed by international and regional human rights mechanisms, as well as the available knowledge and tools produced to date by United Nations bodies (including the Global Compact), States, business and civil society on the subject of business and human rights.
The Working Group’s consideration of information received
The Working Group is mandated by resolution 17/4 of the Human Rights Council to promote the effective and comprehensive dissemination and implementation of the Guiding Principles. In that context, the Working Group can seek and receive information from all relevant sources.
The Working Group welcomes information related to its mandate. Information received from relevant stakeholders will be used, as appropriate, by the Working Group to inform its work and strategy, to identify barriers to the effective implementation of the Guiding Principles and gaps in the protection of human rights in the context of business activities and to inform recommendations made to States, business and other actors, on the implementation of the Guiding Principles.
Given the broad scope of its mandate, the vast scale and complexity of the issue at hand and resource constraints, the Working Group is not generally in a position to address individual cases of alleged business-related human rights abuse.
In some circumstances, however, the Working Group may exercise its discretion to raise specific allegations that it determines to be particularly emblematic with relevant State authorities and companies, and request clarification or additional information as appropriate.
The Forum on Business and Human Rights
Resolution 17/4 mandates the Working Group to guide the Forum on Business and Human Rights, aimed at discussing trends and challenges in the implementation of the Guiding Principles and promoting dialogue and cooperation on issues linked to business and human rights. The Forum meets annually for two working days.
The Working Group submits annual reports to the Human Rights Council and the General Assembly, as per Human Rights Council resolution 17/4.
The Working Group’s strategy was laid out in its first report to the Human Rights Council (A/HRC/20/29).