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

On 6 July 2018, the Human Rights Council adopted resolution 38/13 by consensus, welcoming the work of OHCHR on improving accountability and access to remedy for victims of business-related human rights abuse, and requesting OHCHR to continue its work in this area and, specifically:

"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." (OP 9, emphasis added)

In response to this request from the Human Rights Council, OHCHR launched the third phase of its Accountability and Remedy Project (ARP III) (background on the approach of the Accountability and Remedy Project and its first two phases may be found at the bottom of this page).

The project began with a scoping exercise that resulted in a November 2018 paper setting out the project’s proposed methodology and scope.  For ARP III, we have been focusing on routinized, non-State-based, non-judicial processes (in other words, private mechanisms) through which grievances concerning business-related human rights abuse can be raised, and remedy can be sought.  We have prioritized three types of mechanisms:

  • Company-based grievance mechanisms: mechanisms established and administered by companies;
  • 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
  • Mechanisms associated with development finance institutions: mechanisms through which those adversely impacted by institution-financed projects can seek remedy (e.g., independent accountability mechanisms).

Further, we have organized our 2018-2020 work programme into five work streams:

  • Work stream 1: ways to meet the “effectiveness criteria” of Guiding Principle 31;
  • Work stream 2: the relationship between State-based institutions and non-State-based grievance mechanisms (the “public-private” interface);
  • Work stream 3: cooperation amongst non-State-based grievance mechanisms;
  • Work stream 4: safeguarding rights-holders from retaliation resulting from the use of non-State-based grievance mechanisms; and
  • Work stream 5: meaningful stakeholder involvement in the design and implementation of remedial outcomes.

In November 2019, OHCHR released a discussion paper outlining its preliminary thoughts and insights for ARP III. This paper formed the basis of detailed discussions at two meetings convened in November 2019. The feedback received during these discussions, and through comments on the paper received in writing, informed a February 2020 Consultation Draft of ARP III Recommendations. This consultation draft contains a detailed set of recommended “policy objectives” for States and non-State actors, supported by a series of “elements” intended to demonstrate ways that different actors (both State and non-State) can work towards meeting those objectives in order to improve the effectiveness of non-State-based grievance mechanisms. Feedback on the contents of this consultation draft is welcome from all stakeholders and should be sent to business-access2remedy@ohchr.org by 1 April 2020.

Information about ARP III activities may be found below.  Updated information and documents related to ARP III will be posted on this webpage as they become available. For any questions or comments regarding the ARP III work, please contact business-access2remedy@ohchr.org.


This section includes official UN documents and documents developed by OHCHR.

Events, Meetings, Etc.

This section includes certain events and other types of meetings in which OHCHR took part or is planning to take part, and which can be made public. If you would like to notify the ARP III team of, or invite us to, relevant events, or propose organizing an event with us, please contact business-access2remedy@ohchr.org.

  • 2020 OHCHR ARP III Consultation, Switzerland, TBD
  • States-only Consultation, Switzerland, TBD
  • Chatham House and GBI Event on Conflict and Post-Conflict Areas, United Kingdom, February 2020
  • amfori Workshop on Access to Remedy in Global Supply Chains, Germany, February 2020
  • OHCHR Consultation with rights-holders and civil society, Switzerland, November 2019
  • OHCHR ARP III Multi-Stakeholder Consultation, Switzerland, November 2019
  • 2019 UN Forum on Business and Human Rights Session, Switzerland, November 2019
  • International Conference on Banking and Human Rights, Netherlands, November 2019
  • OHCHR Peer-Learning Workshop with companies, Russia, November 2019
  • 12th Asia Human Rights Forum Sessions, South Korea, October 2019
  • Civil Society Policy Forum, World Bank Group / IMF 2019 Annual Meetings, USA, October 2019
  • International Bar Association Consultation, South Korea, September 2019
  • International Workshop on Access to Justice Mechanisms, Argentina, September 2019
  • National Human Rights Institution Workshop, Mozambique, September 2019
  • Regional Consultation on Business and Human Rights for Latin America and the Caribbean Session, Chile, September 2019
  • OHCHR Southern Africa Sub-Regional Peer-Learning Workshop with companies, South Africa, September 2019
  • OHCHR Southern Africa Sub-Regional Consultation with rights-holders, civil society, and NHRIs, South Africa, September 2019
  • Global Business Initiative on Human Rights Webinar, July 2019
  • IAMnet Consultation, Côte d'Ivoire, June 2019
  • 2019 RightsCon Session, Tunisia, June 2019
  • Human Rights, Big Data and Technology Project & OHCHR Expert Meeting, Tunisia, June 2019
  • International Bar Association Workshop, United Kingdom, May 2019
  • UN Global Compact Local Network Webinar, April 2019
  • Doughty Street Chambers Roundtable, United Kingdom, March 2019
  • International Organisation of Employers Meeting, Switzerland, March 2019
  • Ethical Trade Initiative Workshop, United Kingdom, February 2019
  • German Federal Ministry of Labor and Social AffairsEvent, Germany, January 2019
  • Liechtenstein Initiative for a Financial Sector Commission on Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking Consultation, Liechtenstein, January 2019
  • European Investment Bank Complaints Mechanism Meeting, Luxembourg, January 2019
  • BSR Human Rights Working Group Meeting, Switzerland, November 2018
  • OHCHR Multi-Stakeholder Consultation, Switzerland, November 2018
  • 2018 UN Forum on Business and Human Rights Session, Switzerland, November 2018
  • Ethical Trading Initiative 20th Anniversary Conference on Responsible Supply Chains, United Kingdom, November 2018
  • Doughty Street Chambers Roundtable, United Kingdom, October 2018
  • OHCHR Multi-Stakeholder Expert Meeting, Switzerland, September 2018
  • International Trade Union Confederation Global Legal Meeting, Belgium, September 2018


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 have been 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. If you are interested in submitting research to us, please contact business-access2remedy@ohchr.org.  Some suggested research proposals can be found in this document.

Background on the Accountability and Remedy Project

The Accountability and Remedy Project aims to strengthen implementation of the “Access to Remedy” pillar of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. Since its launch in 2014, this multi-year project has examined the access to remedy challenges at the national level and the actions (legal, policy-related, and practical) likely to be most effective at addressing them.  To ensure that our findings are globally relevant and implementable, information is collected from as many jurisdictions as possible, drawn from all UN regional groupings, and reflecting a wide range of legal structures, systems and traditions.  Contributions are encouraged from as many stakeholders as possible in order to build a thorough understanding of the needs and perspectives of users of grievance mechanisms in a range of contexts.

OHCHR’s findings arising from the two completed phases of work (which related to State-based grievance mechanisms) have been distilled into a series of “policy objectives,”, supported by “elements” intended to demonstrate the different ways that those objectives can be achieved in practice.  This deliberately flexible format was chosen to be readily adaptable to different legal systems and contexts, while also being practical, forward-looking and reflective of international standards on access to remedy.  OHCHR’s recommended actions in relation to judicial mechanisms can be found in the annex of its 2016 report to the Human Rights Council.  Its recommended actions on the use of State-based non-judicial mechanisms are set out in the annex of its 2018 report.

The present phase of this project (ARP III) aims to build on this previous work.  In accordance with the Human Rights Council’s most recent mandate, ARP III focuses on non-State-based grievance mechanisms.