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Largest global dialogue on the impact of businesses on human rights starts in Geneva, 3-5 December

GENEVA (28 November 2012) – Around one thousand participants will join the largest global discussion to date on how governments and businesses are moving to address the impacts of business activities on human rights, which will take place in Geneva on 3-5 December 2012.

The participants from 85 countries, including around 40 State delegations, 150 business enterprises and 170 civil society organisations, will join the global dialogue at the United Nations first annual Forum on Business and Human Rights.

“The first Forum on Business and Human Rights has already exceeded all expectations. The much higher than anticipated turnout indicates the interest from all stakeholders in the business and human rights agenda,” said Puvan Selvanathan, who currently heads the five-strong UN Group of experts tasked with guiding the event.

The Forum is designed to promote the implementation of the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights*, a set of internationally accepted principles which provide a global standard for preventing and addressing the risk of negative human rights impacts linked to business activity.

The Guiding Principles outline what States and business enterprises should do in practice to prevent and address impacts and to ensure access to effective remedies for those whose rights have been adversely affected by business activity.

“They also give businesses predictability in what is expected of them, and provide other stakeholders, including civil society and investors, the tools to measure progress where it matters most – in the daily lives of people,” said John Ruggie, the former Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General on the issue, who led the work to develop the Principles. Professor Ruggie was appointed the first chairperson of the Forum. “The work toward full implementation of the UN Guiding Principles for business and human rights has only just begun.”

The UN Forum on Business and Human Rights will bring together, among others, representatives for multinational corporations in the areas of mining, oil and energy, chemicals, banking and finance, electronics and textile and garments, with persons affected by their activities.

“This first global gathering on businesses and human rights will be an opportunity for all stakeholders to discuss challenges in the implementation of the Guiding Principles in particular sectors, in operational environments and in relation to specific rights and groups, and to identify good practices and opportunities for dialogue and cooperation toward solutions,” Mr. Selvanathan said.

The UN Working Group on the issue of human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises will hold a press conference on Tuesday 4 December at 2:30 pm, Press Room 3, at Palais des Nation, the UN Headquarters in Geneva.

The Working Group on Human Rights and Transnational Corporations and Other Business Enterprises was established by the United Nations Human Rights Council in June 2011. The five members are Mr. Michael Addo, Ms. Alexandra Guáqueta, Ms. Margaret Jungk, Mr. Puvan Selvanathan (current Chairperson-Rapporteur) and Mr. Pavel Sulyandziga. The Working Group is independent from any government or organization. It reports to the Human Rights Council and to the UN General Assembly.
Learn more, visit: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Business/Pages/WGHRandtransnationalcorporationsandotherbusiness.aspx

(*) Read the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Business/Pages/Tools.aspx

Learn more about the UN Forum on Business and Human Rights: http://www-stage.lan.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Business/Pages/ForumonBusinessandHR2012.aspx

Watch the Hangout on the Forum on Business and Human Rights: http://youtu.be/QLQ8-Lft870

For additional information and media requests, please contact John E. Grova (+ 41 79 444 4537 / wg-business@ohchr.org / bhrconsultant@ohchr.org)

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts:
Xabier Celaya, UN Human Rights – Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9383 / xcelaya@ohchr.org)

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