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Governments and businesses must place human rights at heart of development agenda, UN experts stress

GENEVA / NEW YORK (15 September 2017) – Efforts to engage the private sector with the UN’s global development goals must be aligned with human rights, a group of UN experts has stressed ahead of a major forum on the issue.

Their comments come as global business leaders and governments prepare to convene at next week’s UN Private Sector Forum in New York to discuss action and financing of the Sustainable Development Goals.

The goals, agreed by world leaders as part of the UN’s 2030 agenda for sustainable development, envisage partnerships between the private sector and governments as part of efforts to solve the world’s development challenges.

“The most powerful way for businesses to contribute to sustainable development is to embed respect for human rights into all their operations and value chains,” said Anita Ramasastry, one of the five members of the UN Working Group on business and human rights, who is participating in the Private Sector Forum on 18 September.

“Governments, for their part, need to meet their own obligations to protect human rights and give businesses incentives to respect the rights of people affected by their activities.”

The UN experts highlighted 10 key recommendations on how Governments and businesses should embed human rights in partnerships to achieve the SDGs.

The recommendations spell out how the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights provide a clear roadmap to include respect for human rights in SDG actions.

“The UN’s 2030 Agenda references the Guiding Principles and underlines that SDG actions must adhere to international standards. What is needed now, is for Governments, businesses and civil society to work together to put these Principles into practice,” Ms. Ramasastry added.

The role of business in sustainable development will be on the agenda of the annual UN Forum on Business and Human Rights, which takes place in Geneva from 27-29 November.

NOTE TO EDITORS: For further information, see Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (para. 67), and the Open Letter by civil society organizations to the UN Private Sector Forum participants.

The Working Group on human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises was established by the UN Human Rights Council in June 2011. Its current members are: Mr. Michael Addo, Mr. Surya Deva (current Chairperson), Mr. Dante Pesce, Ms. Anita Ramasastry (current vice chair) and Mr. Pavel Sulyandziga.

The Working Groups are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent human rights monitoring mechanisms. The Working Groups report to the Human Rights Council and to the UN General Assembly.  Special Procedures mandate-holders are independent human rights experts appointed by the Human Rights Council to address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. The experts are not UN staff and are independent from any government or organization. They serve in their individual capacity and do not receive a salary for their work.

For additional information and media requests please contact the Working Group Secretariat at: +41 22 917 9323 / wg-business@ohchr.org).

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

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