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UN expert group on business and human rights to visit USA

GENEVA (18 April 2013) – A United Nations group of independent experts on business and human rights will undertake an information-gathering visit to the United States from 22 April to 1 May 2013, to look at current initiatives, opportunities and challenges in implementing the UN Guiding Principles* on Business and Human Rights in the country.

“The US Government has engaged with the business and human rights agenda at the United Nations, and we are keen to learn more about the government’s efforts to implement the Guiding Principles,” said Michael Addo, one of the members of the UN Working Group on the issue of human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises who will visit the country.

“We will also speak to companies, civil society organizations, trade unions and other stakeholders to learn first-hand about opportunities and challenges in ensuring business respect for human rights in the United States and by US-based companies,” added Puvan Selvanathan, the other independent expert representing the Working Group in the country mission.

“The Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights offer clarity and concrete guidance for authorities and companies to fulfill their respective duty and responsibility to prevent negative impacts on human rights of business activities, and to ensure effective access to remedy when they do occur,” Mr. Selvanathan said.

The UN Human Rights Council unanimously endorsed new Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights* in 2011, which established for the first time, an authoritative global standard to address negative impacts on human rights of business activities.

Mr. Addo and Mr. Selvanathan, who visit the country at the invitation of the Government, will meet in Washington D.C. with federal authorities, companies, business organizations, workers organizations and civil society organizations. They will carry out field visits and speak to local stakeholders in Arizona, California, Florida, New York and West Virginia to explore initiatives, opportunities and challenges in specific economic sectors and at the local level.

They will hold a press conference to present preliminary observations from their visit at 2.30pm on May 1st 2013 at the United Nations Information Center, 1775 K Street, NW, Suite 400, Washington D.C.

Findings from the country visit and recommendations will be included in an official report presented to the Human Rights Council in June 2014.

The Working Group 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 and Mr. Pavel Sulyandziga (current Chairperson-Rapporteur). 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

UN Human Rights, country page – United States: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/countries/ENACARegion/Pages/USIndex.aspx

For additional information and media requests please contact:
During the mission (22 April-1 May): Ms. Lene Wendland (+41 79 217 3009) or Mr. Michael van Gelderen (+41 79 444 4332)
Before or after the mission: +41 22 928 9355 / wg-business@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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