Skip to main content

8th UN Forum on Business and Human Rights


26 - 28 November 2019


Geneva, Switzerland


Time to act: Governments as catalysts for business respect for human rights


Programme: Link to Forum programme
Webcast: Link to UN Web TV
Documents: Practical information for participants
Statements and submissions
Background reading:
Follow us on Twitter for updates: @WGBizHRs
Hashtag: #UNForumBHR / #bizhumanrights
Contact: For general queries: [email protected]
For logistics and registration queries: [email protected]

The UN annual Forum on Business and Human Rights is the global platform for stock-taking and lesson-sharing on efforts to move the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights from paper to practice. As the world’s foremost gathering in this area, it provides a unique space for dialogue between governments, business, civil society, affected groups and international organizations on trends, challenges and good practices in preventing and addressing business-related human rights impacts. The first Forum was held in 2012. It attracts more than 2,000 experts, practitioners and leaders for three days of an action- and solution-oriented dialogue.

The Forum was established by the UN Human Rights Council in 2011  “to discuss trends and challenges in the implementation of the Guiding Principles and promote dialogue and cooperation on issues linked to business and human rights, including challenges faced in particular sectors, operational environments or in relation to specific rights or groups, as well as identifying good practices” (resolution 17/4, paragraph 12).

The Forum addresses all three pillars of the Guiding Principles:

  • The State duty to protect against human rights abuses by third parties, including business, through appropriate policies, regulation and adjudication;
  • The corporate responsibility to respect human rights, which means to avoid infringing on the rights of others and to address adverse impacts with which a business is involved; and
  • The need for access to effective remedy for rights-holders when abuse has occurred, through both judicial and non-judicial grievance mechanisms.

The Forum is guided and chaired by the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights and organized by its Secretariat at the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).

2019 theme: background

Time to act: Governments as catalysts for business respect for human rights

A key message from the 2018 UN Forum on Business and Human Rights was that governments must step up their action and leadership. Currently, they are not doing enough to meet their duty to protect against business-related human rights abuse. While important legal developments are evolving in some jurisdictions, and the number of countries developing national action plans on business and human rights continues to grow, the effectiveness of current efforts and the lack of wider action are being called into question.

The lack of government leadership, reflected in governance gaps and a lack of policy coherence at all levels – national, regional and global – remains a fundamental challenge to ensuring that the human rights and dignity of all are upheld in the context of business activities. These gaps have been a recurrent theme at all Forums since the first edition in 2012, and a key reason for the development of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, which provide the main reference for Forum discussions.

At the Forum, civil society organizations, affected stakeholders and business alike have called on States to step up action, through strengthened regulation, improved policy coherence, and through leading by example in the various roles States have as economic actors.

The 2019 Forum will focus on the need for all governments to demonstrate progress, commitments and plans in implementing the State duty to protect and strengthening accountability. As the Guiding Principles clarify, ensuring access to effective remedy is also a part of the State duty to protect against business-related human rights abuse, and discussions on government action need to address the full spectrum of measures from prevention to remediation.

The Forum agenda will look at what governments need to do to foster business respect for human rights, including by getting their own house in order and by setting clear expectations and creating incentives for responsible business conduct. In doing so, the agenda will consider the Guiding Principles’ call for “a smart mix of measures – national and international, mandatory and voluntary – to foster business respect for human rights” and what this can mean in practice.

Contribute to informing the 2019 Forum discussions: Submit information on government implementation of the UN Guiding Principles:

Inviting submissions to track regulatory and policy trends

The Forum provides an opportunity for dialogue with and between governments to take stock of and provide recommendations for their implementation of the State duty to protect. As part of a longer-term strategy for the Forum, the 2019 event will seek to encourage greater information sharing by governments and contribute to building a more solid evidence-base for stock-taking on trends and emerging practice.

Since 2012, Forum discussions have shed light on efforts by Governments to implement the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. However, such tracking to date has not been sufficiently systematic and comprehensive. In order to fill this gap, the 2019 Forum will initiate a survey on government implementation envisaged to be carried out at regular intervals and presented at the Forum, to help facilitate peer learning and compile information on Government action and initiatives to implement the Guiding Principles. This effort is in line with the Human Rights Council’s welcome of the Working Group’s work "to collect and disseminate information on ongoing processes to develop national action plans and other relevant data on global progress in the implementation of the Guiding Principles" and the Council’s call to invite States and all relevant stakeholders to submit information to and engage with the Working Group on their national action plans and other relevant initiatives to implement the Guiding Principles (res. 35/7, para. 5).

Previous surveys by the Working Group

Working Group page on national action plans

Tracking of State implementation by NGOs and others:

In addition, in the spirit of working together and in line with the Forum mandate, all stakeholders are invited to submit brief reports on relevant legal, regulatory and policy developments at either global, regional or national levels. Published submissions will be posted either by country or by region, or under global developments. The deadline for submissions is 10 September.

All governments are encouraged to participate in the implementation survey that will be disseminated in the first half of 2019. Governments may also submit brief country reports on their implementation efforts. Governments may submit their reports on an ongoing basis.

Submissions will help inform several Forum sessions, including the sessions focused on trends and challenges in each of the UN regions.

Guidance for submissions on State implementation:

Guidance for State reports:

  • focus on efforts to implement the Guiding Principles
  • max 2 pages
  • submitted in one of the UN languages
  • the aim is to encourage such reporting on a yearly basis in order to enable continued and systematic tracking of implementation efforts.

Guidance for submissions by other stakeholders:

  • Submissions should be based on credible, specific, reliable, objective, well-documented information relating to pillar I, II and III developments on global, regional or national level
  • Focused on legal, regulatory, policy developments
  • Submissions should not be focused on individual cases, and should be solution-oriented
  • Max 2 pages
  • Preferably in English, or in French or Spanish
  • The Working Group will exercise discretion on publication
  • Submissions are posted as received, and not edited

All submissions should be sent to [email protected].

Statements and submissions

Plenary statements

Government statements

Government written submissions

Other statements and written contributions

Learn more about the UN Forum on Business and Human Rights