Jakarta, 14 May 2013 — Shift and Mazars are pleased to launch a Discussion Paper on the development of public, global standards for reporting and assuring companies’ alignment with the UN Guiding Principles.
The project is officially supported by the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights and will be overseen by an Eminent Persons Group, chaired by Mr. Marzuki Darusman, the Executive Director of the Human Rights Resource Centre for ASEAN, and comprised of a select number of high-level individuals from governments, international organizations, businesses, and professional associations. Membership of the Eminent Persons Group will be publicised in May 2013.
In June 2011, following six years of multi-stakeholder consultation and research, the UN Human Rights Council unanimously endorsed the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, authored by Shift’s Chair and the former Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Business and Human Rights, Professor John Ruggie. The Guiding Principles elaborate upon the 2008 UN “Protect, Respect, and Remedy” Framework on business and human rights, also developed by the former Special Representative.
The UN “Protect, Respect, and Remedy” Framework describes what companies are required to do: namely, respect human rights throughout their business operations and the UN Guiding Principles detail how companies can know and show that they respect human rights in practice. However, there is yet no global and widely accepted process for companies to demonstrate whether their policies and processes are indeed aligned with the UN Guiding Principles and therefore capable of meeting their responsibility to respect human rights.
To fill this gap, Mazars and Shift have launched a project to design a global and widely accepted process for companies to assure their stakeholders that they are meeting their responsibility to respect human rights in practice. Shift is a non-profit centre on business and human rights, whose team was centrally involved in shaping and drafting the Guiding Principles. Mazars is a global auditing and accounting firm with experience and expertise in human rights auditing.
This project will develop a twin set of standards for human rights reporting and assurance:
- A standard for companies to issue a Human Rights Statement that states the extent to which their internal policies and processes align with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights; and
- A standard for independent external human rights assurance providers to provide a Human Rights Assurance that attests that the company’s Human Rights Statement is a fair representation.
The project will be grounded in an extensive and rigorous process of multi-stakeholder consultation. While these standards are being developed initially in the context of the (Association of South-East Asian Nations) region, the objective is that they be applicable to and used in all other regions as well. Therefore, input from all interested stakeholders globally is sought and welcomed.
In particular, the project team seeks early consultation with stakeholders based on a preliminary Discussion Paper. This paper describes possible approaches to ensuring that the reporting and assurance standards are both meaningful for stakeholders and viable for companies, and that they add value to existing initiatives in the business and human rights arena, and on non-financial reporting and assurance. The paper invites comments on issues such as what a company should be required to disclose and what the assurance provider would need to review; what constitutes materiality in each case; the balance between forward-looking human rights risk management and the assessment of past human rights impacts; and the integration of perspectives of affected stakeholders in the assurance process.
The Discussion Paper will be under consultation for two months, from May 1 to July 1 2013. This consultation period will inform the drafting process of the global standards, of which preliminary drafts will be available in November 2013, with further consultations on their content continuing over a period of 12 months. In addition, the paper will be discussed during in-person consultations located within the ASEAN region in June 2013. Interested stakeholders are invited to contact the project team to participate in these consultations.
The project team invites all interested parties to provide comments on the Discussion Paper and looks forward to an active dialogue.
All comments can be submitted via email to:
Ms. Anna Triponel from Shift at anna.triponel[at]shiftproject.org
Mr. Bahtiar Manurung from Mazars at bahtiar[at]mazars.co.id.
Comments received will generally be posted on the website of the Business and Human Rights Resource Centre. Please let us know if you would prefer that your comments not be made public.