Increased action needed on human rights reporting

Published date: 25 November 2019

Recommendations for governments to strengthen business accountability

Governments need to do more to help businesses understand, mitigate and improve their human rights impacts – by strengthening transparency and reporting requirements.

This is the key finding of a report from GRI looking at the progress countries have made towards meeting their duty under the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, by analyzing the 23 National Action Plans (NAPs) produced by governments so far.

As policy makers, businesses, representatives from NGOs and international organizations gather today for the UN Forum on Business and Human Rights in Geneva, GRI’s call to action gives recommendations for governments to improve their NAPs. These include:

Providing requirements for businesses to disclose their human rights impacts, with legislation on human rights due diligence;

Specifying that companies need to identify and manage all human rights impacts, and demonstrating they have effective measures to address them;

Setting measurable and realistic national targets on increasing the number of businesses that report human rights impacts;

Making use of the human rights data produced in corporate sustainability reporting, as supported by the GRI Standards, to highlight challenges and assess progress.

Peter Paul van de Wijs, GRI Chief External Affairs Officer, said:

“The UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights are a route map for countries to protect individuals against human rights abuses. Yet without accountability and effective reporting we will fail to secure the urgent progress required.

GRI’s analysis of the NAPs found wide divergence in how countries set out expectations and provide support to help businesses disclose and manage human rights impacts. I encourage all countries to reflect on our recommendations, whether they’re updating their NAPs or developing a plan for the first time.

Human rights are an important thread throughout the GRI Standards, which provide a cornerstone for any company seeking to be transparent about their impacts, addressing the full range of human rights related risks.”

Notes to editors

View the GRI publication Strengthening business accountability in the NAPs on Business and Human Rights.

This work has been funded by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), as part of GRI’s partnership with Sida, and was prepared with support from the Danish Institute for Human Rights.

Headquartered in Amsterdam (Netherlands) with regional offices around the world, Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) is the independent international organization that helps businesses, governments and other organizations understand and communicate their sustainability impacts.

GRI is represented at the UN Forum on Business and Human Rights (Geneva, 25-27 November), where countries will share lessons on putting the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights into practice. The published NAPs on Business and Human Rights are available online.

Human rights impacts are addressed through GRI’s universal Standards as well as topic-specific standards on child labor, and forced or compulsory labor. A review is currently underway to improve alignment and positioning of human rights within the GRI Standards, including consideration for the development of new Standards or disclosures as needed.