The European Union, Human Rights and Business

In its communication of the 25th of October 2011, the European Commission invited EU Member States to develop national plans for implementing the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (adopted by the Human Rights Council in June 2011).

The Commission considers indeed that “improving the coherence of EU policies relevant to business and human rights is a critical challenge. Better implementation of the UN Guiding Principles will contribute to EU objectives regarding specific human rights issues and core labour standards, including child labour, forced prison labour, human trafficking, gender equality, non-discrimination, freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining. A process involving enterprises, EU delegations in partner countries, and local civil society actors, in particular human rights organizations and defenders, will raise understanding of the challenges companies face when operating in countries where the state fails to meet its duty to protect human rights.”

The decision was taken by the French government to petition the National Consultative Commission on Human Rights (CNCDH), an independent authority created in 1947 to inform the French government and Parliament on their work regarding respect for human rights. Its composition brings together the most comprehensive and relevant expertise possible on this issue: representatives of employers, trade unions, and internationally-renowned human rights and legal experts. The referral letter invites the CNCDH to propose to the government a Plan on Business and Human rights.

Meanwhile, France is actively participating in the discussions at the Council of Europe on a regulatory framework for enterprises in terms of respect for human rights and is encouraging a convergence between its works and those of the European Union.

Updated on: 07.05.13