Business and Human Rights

“The long-term legitimacy of sectors and markets depends, among other things, on operations and products that are ethically acceptable. Companies’ operations have impact on employees, as well as contract workers, workers in supply chains, customers, communities and the environment around operations. End-users of products or services may also be affected by companies. It is broadly accepted that companies have a responsibility to respect human rights, including in supply chains and other business relationships. Respecting human rights is, more generally, part of good business practice and risk management.”

Human Rights Expectations Towards Companies, Norges Bank Investment Management

In 2011 the United Nations Human Rights Council endorsed the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs). The Principles are based on a framework of state responsibility to protect human rights; business responsibility to respect human rights; and the requirement for remedy for human rights abuses. Several countries, including the UK, Denmark and the Netherlands, have published implementation plans to give effect to the UNGPs, and Scotland’s National Action Plan for Human Rights contains a commitment to develop one.

In order to establish a robust evidence base to underpin an Action Plan on Business and Human Rights for Scotland, the SNAP Better World Action Group commissioned a National Baseline Assessment on Business and Human Rights. This was carried out using a tool designed by the Danish Institute for Human Rights and the International Corporate Accountability Roundtable. The National Baseline Assessment comprised desk-based research, consultation with businesses and civil society organisations, and engagement with experts in the field of business and human rights.

Read the National Baseline Assessment on Business and Human Rights Executive Summary, Findings and Recommendations and Annex of Evidence.

A series of stakeholder consultations took place on the National Baseline Assessment:

  1. Civil Society/ Third Sector – June 2017. Read the report
  2. Trade Unions – 8th November 2017. Read the report. 
  3. Business Sector – 1st March 2018. Read the report.
  4. Responsible Business Workshop – 10th May 2018. Read the report.
  5. Children and Young People – 3rd August 2018. Read the report.

A Drafting Group is now drafting a National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights. To inform this work, a comparative review of National Action Plans around the world has been published by the Scottish Human Rights Commission.

Read the full comparative review.

Read a summary of the review with recommendations.