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 focused 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 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).

During 2018 – 2020, OHCHR engaged in a robust set of information-gathering activities that fed into the main report and its explanatory addendum (see paragraphs 15-18 of the main report for an overview of the methodology). The main report’s annex contains (1) policy objectives for States and developers and operators of grievance mechanisms, and (2) elements to demonstrate different ways that the policy objectives can be achieved in practice. Informed by the various information-gathering activities, these policy objectives and supporting elements are intended to capture “good practice” lessons as regards the design and operation of non-State-based grievance mechanisms, and relevant legal and policy issues. Further explanation as to the various objectives and elements can be found in the addendum to the report, which provides definitions, examples and added context, and which should be read alongside the report.

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.


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.

  • 2020 Regional Forum on Business and Human Rights for Latin America and the Caribbean Presentation, September 2020
  • ARP III Report Launch Event, July 2020
  • OHCHR Multi-Stakeholder Expert Meeting, March 2020
  • 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
  • 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 Affairs Event, 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 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.

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 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 has completed three phases of the project, each focusing on a different category of grievance mechanism. OHCHR’s findings in relation to judicial mechanisms can be found in the 2016 report and explanatory addendum presented to the Human Rights Council. Its findings on the use of State-based non-judicial mechanisms are set out in its 2018 report and that report’s explanatory addendum. The findings of the third phase of the project on non-State-based grievance mechanisms are set out in the 2020 report and its explanatory addendum.

In 2020, OHCHR launched a fourth phase of the project (ARP IV) to enhance the accessibility, dissemination and implementation of the findings from the first three phases of the project.