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April 2017

Companies and human rights


Companies and human rights

The Inter-American Juridical Committee, at its regular session held in March 2017, adopted the resolution "Conscious and effective regulation for companies in the sphere of human rights," document CJI / RES. 232 (XCI-O / 17) by which it calls upon the political organs of the OAS to examine the "Guide to Principles on Corporate Social Responsibility in the Field of Human Rights and the Environment in the Americas," approved by the Committee in 2014. The Guide aims at strengthen progress in the region and proposes that States and companies respect shared and concrete obligations in order to protect human rights, the environment, labor rights of workers, populations near where they operate, and consumers. Moreover, the Guide describe measures regarding control and inspection, and also includes actions for education and training, with the participation of various actors, including the academic sector, NGOs, trade unions, social organizations, and the media.

The resolution is composed of a report of the same name: "Conscious and effective regulation of companies in the field of human rights," document CJI / doc.522 / 17 rev.2, which proposes to the Permanent Council a list of alternatives to advance conscious and effective regulation of companies, involving different sectors of society and proposing greater coordination of actions at the universal (global) and regional level. At the universal level, the "Open-ended Intergovernmental Working Group of the United Nations Human Rights Council" is invited to create mechanisms for redress, to involve both developing and developed States, and give a greater presence to a representative of the OAS. At the regional level, the report urges OAS member states to incorporate specific or generic regulations in their domestic legal systems, to introduce human rights and corporate clauses in future Free Trade Agreements, and to disseminate and continue to promote the implementation of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and the 2011 Ruggie Framework. As requested by the General Assembly, the Committee's report also contains a list of good practices, initiatives, legislation, jurisprudence, and challenges in this area.

In this regard, the Department of International Law, acting as Technical Secretariat of the Committee, elaborated a document for the rapporteur "Compilation of good practices, legislation, jurisprudence and challenges to identify alternatives in the treatment of corporate social responsibility in the hemisphere," document DDI / doc.03 / 17. This document is part of the resolution and contains a summary of main universal and regional instruments. At the universal level, UN actions are described, in particular initiatives taken by the Working Group in charge of the topic and progress deriving from the guiding principles and the implementation of the framework to "protect, respect and remedy." Developments made by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the International Labor Organization (ILO), and the Group of Seven (G-7) are incorporated. At the regional level, the current status of the topic is described within the framework of the OAS and other regional organizations, such as the inter-American conferences of the Inter-American Development Bank. It also contains jurisprudence of the organs of promotion and protection of human rights in the inter-American system, along with identifying the regulatory frameworks and developments within domestic jurisprudence. The report take into account responses obtained through a consultation conducted by the Department of International Law with Member States and the organs of the inter-American system. Aware of the mandate of the General Assembly, the report identifies alternatives and challenges that should be considered in addressing the issue.

Both documents, the resolution and the report of the CJI, were transmitted to the Permanent Council of the OAS for its consideration on March 23, 2017.

» To see the text of the resolution entitled "Conscious and effective regulation of companies in the field of human rights," document CJI/RES. 232 (XCI-O/17) click here

» To see the text of the report of the Committee "Conscious and effective regulation of companies in the field of human rights," document CJI/doc.522/17 rev.2 click here

» To see the "Guide to principles on corporate social responsibility in the field of human rights and the environment in the Americas," Document CJI/doc.449/14 rev.1 corr.1 click here

» To see document "Compilation of good practices, initiatives, legislation, jurisprudence and challenges to identify alternatives in the treatment of corporate social responsibility in the continent," document DDI/doc.03/17 click here *Spanish only

For further information on this matter, please contact the Department of International Law of the Secretariat for Legal Affairs of the OAS +1 202 370-0741. 

» For additional information about the Department, please visit our Website

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