Engaging the U.N. Guiding principles on business and human rights: the inter-american commission on human rights & the extractive sector

Cindy Woods


In recent years, the business and human rights movement has climbed to the top of the international human rights agenda. Starting in the 1970s, as multinational corporations increased in fiscal and political power throughout the neoliberal boom of the era, and as corporate complicity in large scale human rights abuses came to light, civil society and governments alike began to push for increased corporate accountability.1 After multiple failed endeavors within the United Nations system at drafting a binding code of conduct for transnational corporations, in 2011, the Human Rights Council adopted the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (Guiding Principles).2 These principles lay out, in three pillars, the state duty to protect individuals against human rights abuses; the corporate responsibility to respect human rights; and the need for greater access to judicial and non-judicial remedies for victims of corporate human rights abuse.3 Following the endorsement of the Guiding Principles, the subsequently created Working Group on the issue of human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises called upon states to begin operationalizing the Guiding Principles through the creation of National Action Plans (NAPs)—“evolving policy strateg[ies]” aimed at creating cohesive and coherent implementation.4 Over thirty countries have committed to creating a NAP, including many within the inter-American system, signaling the region’s readiness to engage with the Guiding Principles. 5

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5102/rdi.v12i2.3572

ISSN 2236-997X (impresso) - ISSN 2237-1036 (on-line)

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