The United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights are an instrument that countries and the business sector can use to ensure the protection and respect for human rights, and the sanctioning of violations of human rights in business. The Human Rights Council endorsed the Guiding Principles in their resolution from June 2011.
UNGPs rest on three pillars:
- Protection – countries must enact legislation and ensure implementation in order to prevent human rights violations by companies;
- Respect – companies must ensure respect for human rights in their production facilities, and in the community they are located in;
- Access to remedy – there must be clear procedures for reporting, processing and sanctioning human rights violations and the right to remedy has to be accessible.
In Bosnia and Herzegovina, the UN’s Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights came into the spotlight and on the political agenda during the implementation of the project “Improving Human Rights in the Business Sector” implemented by the Institute for Youth Development KULT.
To improve the respect for human rights in the business sector, the Institute for Youth Development KULT in cooperation with the Association of Employers of FBiH, with the support of the European Union, organized public consultations with businesses in multiple cities across BiH. These consultations were used as the basis for developing the Questionnaire on Respect for Human Rights in Business.
The results of the questionnaire informed the process of developing the Baseline analysis of Human Rights in the BiH Business Sector, as well as the Methodology for Developing the Charter of Business and Human Rights in BiH. After designing the “Methodology for drafting the Charter on Business and Human Rights in BiH”, we proceeded with developing the full document. The Charter comprises 15 articles detailing the companies’ commitment to preventing human rights violations, involving stakeholders and allowing them to voice their needs, providing equal rights to all, fostering a safe work environment, forbidding forced labor and involvement in human trafficking and upholding the right to a confidential communication channel employees can use to report any violations.
A growing number of companies are adopting the Charter, with more than 80 companies already integrating and implementing the Charter on Business and Human Rights in their work.
The project also included preparations for the development of the BiH Framework Guidelines for the Implementation of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. Along with the Ministry of Human Rights and Refugees of BiH and the Delegation of the European Union, other institutions at state and entity levels, the Association of Employers of FBiH, the Association of Employers of Brčko District, the Alliance of Trade Unions of BiH and the Alliance of Employers of Republika Srpska were all involved in the process of developing the Framework Guidelines.
The BiH Framework Guidelines for the implementation of the UNGP 2021-2025 were finalized after a detailed preliminary process that included recommendations. The United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights are an instrument comprising 31 principles for the implementation of the United Nations “Protect, Respect and Remedy” Framework concerned with human rights issues in the business sector. The Framework Guidelines were presented to representatives of all levels of government.
All the invested effort bore fruit when the BiH Framework Guidelines for the Implementation of the UNGP 2021-2025 were included in the work plan of the BiH Ministry of Human Rights and Refugees. The documents is expected to be adopted by the Council of Ministers this year.
Today, June 16, 2021 marks the 10-year anniversary of the UNGPs’ adoption by the United Nations, soon to be adopted by Bosnia and Herzegovina as well.
We want to take this opportunity to thank all our partners, representatives of all levels of government and the European Union for their participation in developing Framework Guidelines and for working with us on positioning Bosnia and Herzegovina as a country that protects human rights in the business sector.