A day of general discussion on the draft general comment on State obligations under the ICESCR in the context of business activities was held on 21 February 2017.
Businesses play an important role in the realization of economic, social and cultural rights, inter alia by contributing to the creation of employment opportunities and — through private investment — to development.
Following the adoption of the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, many States or regional organizations have adopted action plans on business and human rights. This is a welcome development, and action plans on business and human rights should incorporate human rights principles, including effective and meaningful participation, non-discrimination and gender equality, and accountability and transparency.
However, the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights has been regularly presented with situations in which, as a result of States’ failure to ensure compliance, under their jurisdiction, with internationally recognized human rights norms and standards, corporate activities have negatively affected economic, social and cultural rights. The present general comment seeks to clarify the duties of States parties to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in such situations, with a view to preventing and addressing the adverse impacts of business activities on human rights.
The general comment goes on to examine the following topics:
II. Context and scope
III. Obligations of States parties under the Covenant