OHCHR Accountability and Remedy Project III: Enhancing effectiveness of non-State-based grievance mechanisms in cases of business-related human rights abuse

Overview


Council Mandate:
Resolution 38/13 (para. 9)
Focus of the report:
Effectiveness of non-State-based grievance mechanisms, including but not limited to:
- Company-based grievance mechanisms: mechanisms established and administered by companies (e.g., operational-level grievance mechanisms);
- Grievance mechanisms developed by industry, multi-stakeholder, or other collaborative initiatives: mechanisms external to companies that administer a set of commitments that the companies have agreed to adhere to; and
- Independent accountability mechanisms of development finance institutions: mechanisms through which those adversely impacted by institution-financed projects can seek remedy
Council Response:
Resolution 44/15 (paras. 8 - 12)

Background

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).

The third phase of the project (ARP III) began in response to a mandate from the Human Rights Council in resolution 38/13 (July 2018) requesting OHCHR:

"to identify and analyse challenges, opportunities, best practices and lessons learned with regard to non-state-based grievance mechanisms that are relevant to the respect by business enterprises for human rights, . . . and to submit a report thereon to the Human Rights Council for consideration at its forty-fourth session."

Over the course of 2018-2020, OHCHR engaged in a robust set of information-gathering activities and, following ARP’s multi-stakeholder, consultative methodology, developed numerous papers regarding the role and effectiveness non-State-based grievance mechanisms, including a project scoping paper, discussion paper, and consultation draft.

At the Human Rights Council’s forty-fourth session in June 2020, OHCHR presented the ARP III final report and its explanatory addendum (see how to read an ARP report). These documents contain:

  • general observations regarding non-State-based grievance mechanisms (in the report);
  • a series of recommended actions for improving the effectiveness of these mechanisms, drawing upon good-practice lessons uncovered during the two-year project (in the annex of the report);
  • detailed explanations and context for these recommendations (found in the addendum); and
  • a model terms of reference States can use to review the contribution of non-State-based grievance mechanisms to remedy, and the role of the State in facilitating access to remedy through such mechanisms (found in the addendum).

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

For any questions or comments regarding the ARP III work, please contact business-access2remedy@ohchr.org.

Summary

Although the Guiding Principles recognize that non-State-based grievance mechanisms can offer potential benefits to those affected by business-related human rights abuse, few mechanisms are fulfilling their envisaged role.

While there have been welcome attempts to design and operate various kinds of mechanisms, and while there have been valuable contributions by such mechanisms to accountability and remedy, rights holders continue to report significant problems with identifying, accessing and using such mechanisms in practice. The remedies that may be obtained from non-State-based grievance mechanisms are usually partial at best, in many cases due to limitations placed on the mechanism’s mandate, available resources, or both.

The potential contribution of non-State-based grievance mechanisms is often undermined by a lack of policy coherence on the part of States in their approaches to such mechanisms.  There is is a need for greater recognition by States of the legitimacy and utility of these mechanisms in complementing and supplementing domestic legal and regulatory regimes.

Likewise, there is often a lack of sensitivity and responsiveness of many non-State-based grievance mechanisms to their legal, regulatory, economic, social and cultural contexts. Together with the lack of cooperation between developers and operators of mechanisms in specific contexts and cases, this results in unclear and incoherent processes, inefficiencies and other barriers for rights holders. For their part, developers and operators of such mechanisms need to give much greater emphasis to the needs, expectations and perspectives of the people for whose use these mechanisms are intended.

The recommendation actions found in the annex of the ARP III report address

  • how States can work towards developing a legal and policy space that enables non-State-based grievance mechanisms to make a positive contribution to accountability and remedy; and
  • how developers and operators of non-State-based grievance mechanisms can enhance the effectiveness of their mechanisms, as well as take advantage of opportunities for greater cooperation with other entities and mechanisms.

Documents

Events, Meetings, Etc.

This section includes certain events and other types of meetings in which OHCHR took part, and which can be made public. This list is not exhaustive, nor is it representative of the geographic reach of the project, which was global in nature.

OHCHR is actively seeking to participate in events related to accountability and access to remedy for business-related human rights abuse. If you would like to notify the ARP team of, or invite us to, relevant events, or propose organizing an event with us, please contact business-access2remedy@ohchr.org.

Event

Date

Place

Additional information

Presentation at the 2020 Regional Forum on Business and Human Rights for Latin America and the Caribbean

September 2020

Virtual

 

ARP III Report Launch Event

July 2020

Virtual

 

OHCHR Multi-Stakeholder Expert Meeting

March 2020

Virtual

 

Chatham House and GBI Event on Conflict and Post-Conflict Areas

February 2020

United Kingdom

 

amfori Workshop on Access to Remedy in Global Supply Chains

February 2020

Germany

OHCHR Consultation with rights-holders and civil society

November 2019

Switzerland

 

OHCHR ARP III Multi-Stakeholder Consultation

November 2019

Switzerland

Session at the 2019 UN Forum on Business and Human Rights

November 2019

Switzerland

 

International Conference on Banking and Human Rights

November 2019

Netherlands

OHCHR Peer-Learning Workshop with companies

November 2019

Russia

 

Sessions at the 12th Asia Human Rights Forum

October 2019

South Korea

Civil Society Policy Forum, World Bank Group / IMF 2019 Annual Meetings

October 2019

USA

 

International Bar Association Consultation

September 2019

South Korea

 

International Workshop on Access to Justice Mechanisms

September 2019

Argentina

National Human Rights Institution Workshop

September 2019

Mozambique

 

Session at the 2019 Regional Consultation on Business and Human Rights for Latin America and the Caribbean

September 2019

Chile

OHCHR Southern Africa Sub-Regional Peer-Learning Workshop with companies

September 2019

South Africa

 

OHCHR Southern Africa Sub-Regional Consultation with rights-holders, civil society, and NHRIs

September 2019

South Africa

Global Business Initiative on Human Rights Webinar

July 2019

Virtual

 

IAMnet Consultation

June 2019

Côte d'Ivoire

 

2019 RightsCon Session

June 2019

Tunisia

Human Rights, Big Data and Technology Project & OHCHR Expert Meeting

June 2019

Tunisia

International Bar Association Workshop

May 2019

United Kingdom

 

UN Global Compact Local Network Webinar

April 2019

Virtual

 

Doughty Street Chambers Roundtable

March 2019

United Kingdom

International Organisation of Employers Meeting

March 2019

Switzerland

 

Ethical Trade Initiative Workshop

February 2019

United Kingdom

German Federal Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs Event

January 2019

Germany

 

Liechtenstein Initiative for a Financial Sector Commission on Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking Consultation

January 2019

Liechtenstein

European Investment Bank Complaints Mechanism Meeting

January 2019

Luxembourg

 

BSR Human Rights Working Group Meeting

November 2018

Switzerland

 

OHCHR Multi-Stakeholder Consultation

November 2018

Switzerland

2018 UN Forum on Business and Human Rights Session

November 2018

Switzerland

Ethical Trading Initiative 20th Anniversary Conference on Responsible Supply Chains

November 2018

United Kingdom

 

Doughty Street Chambers Roundtable

October 2018

United Kingdom

OHCHR Multi-Stakeholder Expert Meeting

September 2018

Switzerland

International Trade Union Confederation Global Legal Meeting

September 2018

Belgium

 


Questionnaires

The following open process and targeted questionnaires were available for response until 30 April 2019.

Substantial contributions by external organizations

This section contains certain substantial contributions that were submitted to the ARP III team, and which can be made public. The views expressed in these contributions are solely those of the authors and not OHCHR, and OHCHR has not independently verified all claims made in these documents.

Phases of the Accountability and Remedy Project

For background on the greater Accountability and Remedy Project, consult the ARP background page. For information on specific phases:

ARP Phase

Major Outputs

ARP I: Enhancing the effectiveness of judicial mechanisms

ARP II: Enhancing the effectiveness of State-based non-judicial mechanisms

ARP III: Enhancing the effectiveness of non-State-based grievance mechanisms

ARP IV: Enhancing the accessibility, dissemination and implementation of ARP findings

  • Ongoing