I am glad to be able to reassure you that the UK is committed to promoting the protection and respect of human rights in business, both at home and abroad. Indeed, the UK was the first country to create a National Action Plan to implement the UN’s Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. This plan sets out what is expected in regard to the conduct of UK businesses, including compliance with relevant laws and respect for human rights; treating the risk of causing human rights abuses as a legal compliance issue; adopting appropriate due diligence policies; and consulting those who could potentially be affected. #
I welcome that the Government is clear that the UK expects all our businesses should comply with all applicable laws; identify and prevent human rights risks; and behave in line with the UN Guiding Principles - including their management of supply chains here and overseas.
Nevertheless, I appreciate that we must acknowledge the far-reaching influence that transnational corporations have, and that more effective measures may be needed to regulate the influence that global companies have in our world.
I understand that in June 2014, the United Nations Human Rights Council took steps to begin to elaborate on an international legally binding instrument to regulate the activities of transnational corporations and other business entities, also establishing an open-ended intergovernmental working group (OEIGWG), to work on this issue. The Second Revised Draft of the binding instrument was under discussion at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva at the end of October. Negotiations are ongoing and I will be monitoring developments closely.