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B-Tech Project

OHCHR and business and human rights

Header - B-Tech Project.

The B-Tech Project provides authoritative guidance and resources for implementing the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human rights (UNGPs) in the technology space. In 2019, UN Human Rights launched the project after consultations with civil society, business, States, and other experts about the scope of the B-Tech Project.

The B-Tech project is structured along four strategic focus areas:

  • Focus Area 1: Addressing Human Rights Risks in Business Models
  • Focus Area 2: Human Rights Due Diligence and End-Use
  • Focus Area 3: Accountability and Remedy
  • Focus Area 4: “A Smart Mix of Measures”: Exploring regulatory and policy responses to human rights challenges linked to digital technologies

Adding to this, the project also explores the responsibilities of investors in the technology space, as a cross-cutting theme.

Generative AI Project

An intensifying global momentum around Generative AI innovations is sparking key debates on what constitutes responsible business conduct in the technology sector. Against this backdrop, B-Tech has launched the Generative AI project which seeks to demonstrate the ways in which the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs) can guide more effective understanding, mitigations and governance of the risks of generative artificial intelligence (“generative AI”).

Documents
Project documents
Foundational papers

As part of on-going consultation with key stakeholders, the B-Tech Project has published foundational papers. These papers are written for leaders from across the technology sector, investor community, civil society, and government seeking to understand the key features of the UNGPs. The series is being released to frame discussions among diverse stakeholders as part of a global process to produce guidance, tools and practical recommendations to advance implementation of the UNGPs in the technology sector.

Briefings
Blog posts
Community of Practice
Investor track
  • B-Tech Institutional Investor Business Models Tool

    This tool is part of B-Tech's ongoing workstream focusing on rights-respecting investment in technology companies. The tool is targeted to institutional investors who invest in mature technology companies (both public and private), with a specific focus on human rights risks linked to technology company business models. The tool's aim is to equip institutional investors to engage more deeply with technology companies on business model-related human rights risks.

    The tool provides a template for institutional investors to use in engaging technology companies on these business model risks. This template comes in the form of a series of "engagement questions" and a corresponding "evaluation framework" for institutional investors to use in assessing the quality of company responses received to those questions. This template is demonstrated via discussion of a series of specific business model features present in the tech sector that our team identified as carrying potential human rights risk. This guidance is the result of extensive consultation by B-Tech with civil society, investors, and technology companies.

Stakeholder engagement
  • Stakeholder engagement paper

This paper has emerged from the B-Tech Stakeholder Engagement Working Group, comprised of participants from civil society organizations and tech companies, all dedicated to enhancing the role of affected stakeholders in the design, development, and use of digital technologies. The Working Group discussed ways to improve the process of stakeholder engagement and through the participants' diverse perspectives, surfaced the five practices in the attached paper as suggestions for tech companies and affected stakeholders both to consider.

Gender, tech and the role of business

B-Tech’s new workstream on gender, digital tech and the role of business is building upon the momentum generated by the recently concluded Commission on the Status of Women’s 67th session, for which the priority theme was “Innovation and technological change, and education in the digital age for achieving gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls”. The B-Tech Project plans to organize a series of multistakeholder consultations which will feed into the development of a B-Tech briefing paper providing guidance on gender and digital tech from a business and human rights perspective.

  • B-Tech consultation on gender, tech and the role of business in San Francisco, 15th June

    Taking a global approach, the consultation discussed the key considerations relevant to understanding the implications of the UNGPs for technology companies’ responsibility to respect (and States’ duty to protect) on women’s and girls’ rights, and explored how the UNGPs framework connects with existing tools and resources for the ICT industry on assessing and mitigating impacts on women and girls (and to highlight any gaps); as well as identify outstanding knowledge gaps or other barriers to fully incorporating gender issues within this field. The concept note for the consultation is here.

  • Call for submission

    As we continue to build new B-Tech workstream on gender, tech and the role of business and prepare a special briefing paper, we welcome contribution from all stakeholders. In this regard, we have issued a call for inputs to support the draft of the special briefing paper on gender, tech and the role of business. Deadline for submission : 15 February 2024

CHILDREN, TECH AND THE ROLE OF BUSINESS

To look at the impact of digital technologies on children’s rights, the B-Tech project has been partnering with UNICEF for the development of a draft briefing paper on identifying and addressing technology company business activities’ adverse impacts on children’s rights.

The draft paper is open for consultations and can be found here. Please send your input at [email protected] by 13 March 2024.

UNGPs Compass

The UNGP compass (forthcoming release) points out how the business and human rights lens can inform efforts to govern corporate conduct in AI and the tech sector more broadly. As an evidence-based guidance tool, it aims at assisting policymakers in aligning regulation targeting technology company conduct with the UNGPs.

Interpretive advice
Other publications 
Event, meetings, etc.

This section includes certain events and other types of meetings related to the B-Tech Project and in which OHCHR took part or is planning to take part, and which can be made public. If you would like to notify the B-Tech Project team of, or invite us to, relevant events, or propose organizing an event with us, please contact [email protected].

EventDatePlaceAdditional information
B-Tech Africa Nairobi consultation26 October 2023Nairobi

Concept note and agenda

Summary note

B-Tech Africa NGO Forum ACHPR16 October 2023Arusha (and online)

Concept note and agenda

Summary note

B-Tech Africa Workshop with NHRIs31 October 2023online

Concept note and agenda

Summary note

B-Tech Africa Kick-Off Event – Developing the framework for responsible tech in Africa28-30 March 2023Cape Town (South Africa)

Concept note and agenda

Summary note

B-Tech Africa Stakeholder Engagement – Developing the framework for responsible tech in Africa17 February 2023Nairobi (Kenya)Concept note and agenda
​Business and Human Rights Annual Forum Session on “mandating responsible business conduct in the technology sector- Advancing the UNGPs in regulatory debates”​30 November 2022​Geneva and hybrid

Concept note​

Summary note

​Consultation on “Building Blocks for Tech Regulation – Limitations and Advantages of a Business & Human Rights Approach”​21 October 2022​Oxford Bonavero Institute for Human RightsSummary note
​African Business and Human Rights Forum in Accra, Ghana​11-13 October 2022​Accra and hybridSummary note
OHCHR consultation on the practical application of the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights to the activities of technology companies​7-8 March 2021​Virtual

Consultation page

Concept note and agenda

Participation guidelines

Summary of consultation

​Multi-stakeholder consultation on “Engaging Policy Makers on Tech Regulation using the UNGPs”, organized by the UN Human Rights B-Tech Project, the Centre for Democracy & Technology’s Europe Office and the Geneva Academy​14 September 2021​Virtual​Summary note
UN B-Tech Leadership Dialogue: Technology executives in dialogue with the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: The role of business leaders in advancing corporate respect for human rights9 December 2021VirtualMeeting note
Internet Governance Forum 20218 December 2021VirtualRecording
Summary note
B-Tech consultation on gender, digital tech and the role of business8 December 2021VirtualConcept note
Business and Human Rights Annual Forum 202130 November 2021Hybrid (Palais des Nations, room XVIII and on Zoom)Concept note
Summary note
Recording
Multi-stakeholder consultation on access to remedy in the tech sector23-24 September 2021Hybrid (Palais des Nations, room XVIII and on Zoom)

Concept note and agenda
Session 3 case studies for discussion

Video recordings:

Consultation report (summary)

Geneva Academy and OHCHR expert consultation on the State duty to protect18 February 2021VirtualAgenda and concept note 
Summary note
EU-NGO Human Rights Forum 20209-10 December 2020VirtualPanel discussion 
Video recording
Business and Human Rights Annual Forum 202016 November 2020VirtualPanel discussion in cooperation with GANHRI
Video recording
Internet Governance Forum 20206 November 2020VirtualOpen Forum: "Upholding Rights in the State-Business Nexus: C19 and beyond"
Video recording
Summary note
UNGPs 10+ and UN B-Tech dialogue on investment and human rights29 October 2020VirtualSummary note
Chatham House, Consultation on Access to Remedy5 October 2020VirtualProgram
International Corporate Accountability Roundtable Annual Meeting28 September 2020VirtualProgram
RightsCon OnlineJuly 2020VirtualPanel on addressing business model related human rights risks (information note)
SwissNexJune 2020VirtualGeneva Talks: Humanitarians and Technologists, Unite! exploring the symbiotic relationship between technology & humanity (event details and recording)
The Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution at the World Economic Forum & OHCHR two-day workshop on human rights due diligence and end-useMarch 2020 (postponed due to Covid-19)VirtualDraft agenda and concept note
The Carr Center for Human Rights Policy & OHCHR expert meeting on addressing human rights risks in technology company business models24 February 2020BostonAgenda and concept note
2019 Internet Governance ForumNovember 2019BerlinConcept note of the Open Forum Session
2019 UN Forum on Business and Human Rights SessionNovember 2019SwitzerlandConcept note
12th Asia Human Rights ForumOctober 2019South KoreaAgenda of the Forum
Concept note of sessions 4, 5 and 6
Case study for session 6
OHCHR Southern Africa Sub-Regional multi-Stakeholder ConsultationSeptember 2019South AfricaConcept note and agenda
RightsCon TunisJune 2019TunisiaSummary report 
Introductory remarks
Human Rights, Big Data and Technology Project & OHCHR Expert Meeting on the technology sector and access to remedy through non-State-based grievances mechanismsJune 2019TunisiaAgenda and concept note 
Summary report
Newsletter

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Video

UN Human Rights B-Tech: Panel discussion on Human Rights risks in tech business models