Human Rights Reporting and Assurance Frameworks Initiative - RAFI

Overview

Today, there are a growing number of regulatory and other requirements for companies to report on their human rights performance. Many of these cite the UN Guiding Principles as a key reference point for reporting. At the same time, more and more investors and other stakeholders are seeking transparency from companies on how they are implementing the UN Guiding Principles. Furthermore, companies are increasingly taking their own initiative to explore how they can better demonstrate their alignment with the Guiding Principles. The accelerating trend in requirements and requests for reporting on human rights is clear. Moreover, the beginnings of a similar dynamic can be seen with regard to assurance of human rights reports.

As these dynamics develop, the question arises as to what good reporting on company alignment with the UN Guiding Principles – and good assurance of such reports – should involve. RAFI aims to help answer this question.

The proposed reporting and assurance frameworks will be public, meaning that they will be non-proprietary and publicly available to all companies and assurance providers to use in their work. They are intended to be relevant to, and viable for, all companies and auditors/assurance providers in any region, and to dovetail with existing reporting initiatives.

Project Structure, Timeline and Process

Project Team

The RAFI process is facilitated by Shift and Mazars in liaison with the Human Rights Resource Centre (the “project team”). Mazars is a global provider of audit, accountancy, tax, legal and advisory services. The Human Rights Resource Centre is a non-profit academic centre working on human rights issues in the Association of South East Asian Nations (“ASEAN”).

The project team will conduct research, liaise with all interested stakeholders, facilitate consultations, produce public reports from those consultations – including key issues and emerging ideas or proposals – and help advance the process of drafting the proposed frameworks.

An outline of the project’s next steps for the first half of 2014, including consultation plans, are available here: RAFI Feb 2014 Next Steps Summary.

Note to stakeholders: Mazars Indonesia - with Mazars UK and US - was a founding member of the Reporting and Assurance Frameworks Initiative (RAFI), together with the non-profit business and human rights center, Shift.  In May 2014, the Indonesia firm became independent of Mazars and now operates under the name Moores Rowland.  Due to differences in its approach to business and human rights from those followed by RAFI, it will no longer participate in the initiative.

The project team will conduct research, liaise with all interested stakeholders, facilitate consultations, produce public reports from those consultations – including key issues and emerging ideas or proposals – and help advance the process of drafting the proposed frameworks. 

Timeline

A 2014-2015 tentative calendar for RAFI, which will be further driven by the needs of the consultative process, can be found here: 2014-2015 RAFI Calendar.

An outline of the project’s next steps for the first half of 2014, including consultation plans, are available here: RAFI Feb 2014 Next Steps Summary

Eminent Persons Group

RAFI is overseen and steered by an Eminent Persons Group (“EPG”) which consists of leaders from a broad range of stakeholder backgrounds, globally and in ASEAN. The EPG provides strategic oversight of the project’s process and substance and advice on its overall direction. The 16 members of the EPG are:

1. Helen Brand, Chief Executive Officer of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants

2. Marzuki Darusman, Executive Director of the Human Rights Resource Centre for ASEAN, UN Special Rapporteur on human rights in North Korea and former Attorney-General of Indonesia (Chair of EPG)

3. Rafendi Djamin, Indonesian Representative to the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights

4. Paul Druckman, Chief Executive Officer of the International Integrated Reporting Committee

5. Teresa Fogelberg, Deputy Chief Executive at the Global Reporting Initiative

6. Filip Gregor, Lawyer at Frank Bold

7. Alexandra Guaqueta, Chair of the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights
8. Peter Herbel, Former Senior Vice-President and General Counsel of Total

9. Adam Kanzer, Managing Director and General Counsel of Domini Social Investments
10. Makarim Wibisono, Executive Director of the ASEAN Foundation

11. Colin Melvin, Chief Executive Officer of Hermes Equity Ownership Services Ltd.

12. Roel Nieuwenkamp, Chair of the OECD Working Party on Responsible Business Conduct

13. Christopher Ng, Regional Secretary of UNI Apro

14. Gro Nystuen, Member of Ethical Council of The Government Pension Fund of Norway

15. John Ruggie, Chair of Shift’s Board and former Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Business and Human Rights

16. Thomas Thomas, Chief Executive Officer of the ASEAN CSR Network

The reports from the EPG meetings are available here:

·      Meeting report of November 21, 2013

·      Meeting report of March 20, 2014

·      Meeting report of June 17, 2014

UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights

The UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights has expressed its firm support for RAFI and is engaging with this project as part of its mandate to promote implementation of the Guiding Principles and as part of its strategy to collaborate with stakeholders to provide further clarification on the application of the Guiding Principles. See the UN Working Group’s statement on its support for the project for further information.

Global Reporting Initiative (GRI)

In December 2013, GRI and RAFI signed a Memorandum of Understanding to underline their mutual commitment to advancing meaningful corporate human rights reporting. Both GRI and RAFI believe that robust human rights reporting is a key means of advancing the integration of respect for human rights into business practices, as called for by the UN Guiding Principles. RAFI will seek, through an open and multi-stakeholder consultative process, to identify opportunities for the language of the reporting and assurance frameworks to dovetail to the greatest extent possible with the GRI Sustainability Reporting Guidelines.

Consultations

The project team has welcomed the active engagement of many stakeholder groups and commentators in the project and is committed to wide, deep, and collaborative consultation with stakeholders from all relevant backgrounds to shape the project going forward.

2014 Consultations

In March, JSL Stainless Limited hosted a consultation on RAFI in New Delhi, India, organized in collaboration with the Centre for Responsible Business, and the RAFI project team.  The meeting was attended by participants predominantly from the business sector, but with a number also from investment, government and civil society backgrounds. 

India consultation report, 15 Mar 2014

From February to April 2014, the RAFI project team interviewed approx. 20 individuals from companies, investors and civil society organisations to discuss the types of questions and indicators that would elicit the kinds of information about a company’s human rights performance that it is meaningful for stakeholders to read, viable for companies to provide, and which support good human rights due diligence.

In April – May 2014, RAFI conducted its second round of expert consultations in London and New York to build on these interviews as well as the first round of expert consultations that took place in October – November 2013. These expert consultations involved a cross-section of representatives working in companies, non-governmental organizations, government, audit and assurance providers, investors, and academia. The primary focus of this expert consultation was the overall shape of, and approach to, the RAFI reporting framework, as well as some illustrative examples of the kinds of ‘smart questions’ that might form its content.

The background documents that were discussed at the second round of expert consultations are as follows:

RAFI Human Rights Framework - Outline Construct Version 1

RAFI Human Rights Framework - Smart Questions Version 1

Background documents (that are available here), were also circulated to the participants.

The RAFI project team welcomes all comments and feedback on these documents for consultation, which it will be revising in light of comments received. Meeting reports from this second round of expert consultations are available here:

London expert consultation report, 24 April 2014

New York expert consultation report, 26 May 2014

2013 Consultations

RAFI held a number of expert consultations in October – November 2013 in London, New York and Jakarta as well as CSO consultations in Jakarta and multi-stakeholder workshops in Bangkok and Medellin.  Through these meetings, the project team consulted with over 150 individuals from business, civil society, governments as well as legal, assurance, academic and other expert backgrounds.  The team has also held a wide range of bilateral consultations with individuals and organizations since June 2013.

In February, RAFI published the project team’s key take-aways from these consultations, which will guide the project’s direction in 2014.  They are available here: Take-aways from RAFI Consultations.

Full reports of the discussions that have taken place on RAFI can be found here:

Further Resources

Framing Document

The RAFI Framing Document from November 2013:

  • Recaps the rationale for the project;
  • Summarizes the project’s vision and objectives;
  • Positions the project in the wider context of other initiatives and developments; and
  • Describes the processes envisaged for consultation and collaboration.

It is accessible here.

Further Information

For further information about Shift's participation in the project, please contact Anna Triponel: anna.triponel[at]shiftproject.org. For all materials relating to the project, including all public stakeholder comments received, please visit the RAFI portal, kindly hosted by the Business and Human Rights Resource Centre here.

Shift is pleased to be partnering on RAFI with: