Welcome to Shift’s blog, where we use our mix of expertise on the Guiding Principles and unique practical experience with their implementation to address practical challenges and shine a light on leadership and practice.
The lasting impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on our personal lives is evident. Beginning with the loss of loved ones and extending to how we work, shop, and socialise. But what will the impact be to our societies and economies in the long run? The truth is that the long-term ramifications are far from clear.
This post was also published by CDSB. The pandemic has accentuated the important interconnections between our social and environmental systems, and the deep inequalities that exist across society. As researchers have emphasised, the likelihood of diseases like Covid-19 increases with environmental degradation and climate change, factors which are driven in large part by an unsustainable and […]
Since their unanimous endorsement by the UN Human Rights Council ten years ago, the UN Guiding Principles have been simultaneously lauded for their impact, underestimated by critics, and limited by misunderstanding. What is often missed in such analyses is the inherent radicalism of the UNGPs. This revolution in our expectations of the role of business in an increasingly unequal globalized economy has been reflected in norms of behavior, law and practice. It is worth returning to that quiet radicalism as we take stock of successes and look to the potential to drive further change over the next decade of post-pandemic recovery and beyond.
Since their unanimous endorsement by the UN Human Rights Council ten years ago, the UN Guiding Principles have been simultaneously lauded for their impact, underestimated by critics and limited by misunderstanding.
Shift’s General Counsel, John Sherman III explains how the Model Contract Clauses to Protect Workers in International Supply Chains, recently updated by the ABA, can help companies operationalize human rights due diligence in supply chain contracts.
The American Bar Association (ABA) is the largest voluntary association of lawyers and law students in the U.S. and the world. It was the first national bar association to have formally endorsed the 2011 UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs) and has made the elimination of modern slavery and child labor in […]
This short piece describes how Ericsson and Shift embarked on a distinct human rights assessment, looking at potential human rights impacts as the company planned for the roll out of their latest technology, 5G.
When human rights practitioners develop strategies to identify and prevent risk to people, they often feel like their hands are tied: the business is already operating in a certain way, in given markets with different levels of risk, selling a line of products that already exists and partnering with suppliers that have already been decided […]
In this short conversation, Caroline Rees (Shift) and Phil Bloomer (BHRRC) discuss how Business and Human Rights may offer a unique way to navigate this broad array of civil, political, economic, social and cultural impacts on people, both through their focus on those impacts that reach the point where they undermine people’s dignity and equality, and through their underpinning in the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, which provides a standard for what we can and should expect of business as well as governments.
ABOUT It is perhaps a cliché to say that the COVID-19 pandemic has surfaced the urgent need to reimagine the relationship between business and people. Over the past few months, we’ve seen how the workers that companies depend on the most – essential workers – are also very often the ones that are most vulnerable […]
This article originally appeared in this compendium by the Business and Human Rights Resource Centre As the debate on mandatory human rights due diligence (mHRDD) at the EU-level starts to move from the if to the what and the how, a key concern that policymakers must grapple with is the size of businesses covered by […]
Everyone working to ensure that business acts with respect for people is in the business of behavior change. We want companies, and individuals within them, to act in ways that enable respect for human rights. That being so, it’s intriguing that we have not drawn on the vast range of existing psychological insights about how […]
Shift Advisor Jana Mudronova discusses how meaningful stakeholder engagement can lead to more reliable, trusted and meaningful data, and play a key role in informing evaluation
Tracking whether company efforts to prevent and mitigate risks to people from business activities are effective is an integral part of the Corporate Responsibility to Respect Human Rights. Many companies undertake a range of monitoring activities to this end, including assessment of human rights risks, impact assessments, audits and reviews of grievances. While these periodically-used […]
Shift's Business Learning Program Director Francis West explains how many get it wrong on SMEs, and makes the case for smaller firms to take a bespoke approach.
“SMEs lack the resources and expertise to manage human rights issues.” “They’re too focused on small margins to invest in respecting people.” “SMEs don’t have any leverage.” “Without regulatory and reputational concerns, there’s no business case for small companies to care about human rights.” “How can large multinational companies possibly respect human rights when faced […]
Advisor Daniel Berezowsky explains how using the UN Guiding Principles, companies can use their voice to spotlight LGBTQ rights, rather than using LGBTQ rights to cast a spotlight on themselves.
June 28 marks the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall uprising, the event that sparked the modern lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) movement. Ever since, queer communities have taken their fight for justice to the streets all over the world in their yearly Pride march. In a few (mostly Western) cities, Pride has become a celebration […]
Senior Advisor David Kovick explains Shift's ecosystem approach to remedy, and how financial institutions can benefit from incorporating it to close the gap with traditional approaches.
The Remedy Gap There is much debate about the roles and responsibilities of financial institutions when it comes to respecting human rights. But there is one point on which we can all agree: in too many cases, remedy is not available for people who are harmed by business activities, which are often connected in some […]
Project Lead Mark Hodge looks back on progress made in 2018 and discusses the beta version of a new tool to help companies evaluate outcomes for people.
In 2018, our work on the Valuing Respect project made one thing clear: better evaluation of business respect for human rights starts with reconnecting to what we are trying to achieve in the world. That is, to remember that corporate policies, systems and programs have always been the means, not the ends, of the responsible business […]
In this piece, Shift Advisor David Vermijs explains what value chain mapping is, and how companies like Heineken and ABN AMRO are using it to leverage business respect for human rights throughout their value chain.
Value chain mapping and traceability are common buzzwords in sustainability circles. But few companies are looking beyond a limited number of commodities or deliberately applying an explicit human rights lens to these processes. From my experience at Shift, working with dozens of companies, human rights value chain mapping is one of the most effective ways […]
A statement on the role of mandatory measures in a “smart mix” when implementing the UNGPs
There is a growing number of national and international debates around mandatory measures to ensure business respect for human rights, and specifically a) a binding international instrument on business and human rights and b) national legislation on mandatory human rights due diligence. In these debates, the UN Guiding Principles’ expectation of a “smart mix” of […]
An interview with Rachel Davis, Co-founder and Managing Director at Shift As a senior legal advisor to former UN Special Representative John Ruggie during his mandate, Shift’s Rachel Davis played a key role in the drafting process of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. Seven years into the implementation of the UNGPs, she reflects on the relevance of mandatory measures in the State Duty to Protect and the growing debate around comprehensive mandatory human rights due diligence legislation.
As a senior legal advisor to former UN Special Representative John Ruggie during his mandate, Shift’s Rachel Davis played a key role in the drafting process of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. Seven years into the implementation of the UNGPs, she reflects on the relevance of mandatory measures in the State […]
Get on the right path to writing your first annual update, even if you don’t have everything figured out.
The countdown is on! If you handle reporting for a company covered by the French Loi relative au devoir de vigilance des sociétés mères et des entreprises donneuses d’ordre (the « Duty of Vigilance law »), you know it’s almost time to publish the first annual update on the implementation of your vigilance plan. Here are […]
Shift’s analysis of the Canadian mining sector reveals strengths and weaknesses in how mining companies communicate on their management of impacts on people.
The global mining industry is a large, profitable sector, with a particularly strong presence in Canada. Revenue from the top 40 global mining companies, 15% of which are Canadian, amounted to more than $600 billion in 2017. Additionally, 57% of the world’s public mining companies are listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX). In contrast […]
This article first appeared in the Ethical Corporation blog on December 18, 2018 As the year comes to an end, it is only natural to think back to the many business and human rights happenings of 2018: Facebook’s inaction as its platform was used to incite rape and murder in Myanmar; the continuing stories of displaced communities […]
In this short piece from Senior Advisor David Kovick, he shares takeaways on meaningful stakeholder engagement by companies who are looking to respect human rights in their business practices, and some ways to put them into practice right away at your own company.
It was a busy summer here at Shift. We kicked it off in June with the 13th edition of our Business Learning Workshop. If you have been part of the Shift family for a while, you know how much value we place in the opportunity to engage more deeply with our business partners on a […]
Developments in the legal profession in regards to providing counsel to corporate clients on preventing human rights impacts continue to advance, most recently in Europe.
I spoke recently to the New York City Bar Association at a Continuing Legal Education program on why business and human rights matter for lawyers. Based on a show of hands, most of the lawyers attending the session were law firm litigators. Only a few were corporate or commercial lawyers. This was unfortunate, because business […]
The way businesses' social performance gets measured isn't working - at Shift, we are starting a major new collaboration to help change that.
VISIT | The Valuing Respect website Companies’ social performance matters! Thirty years ago that might have been viewed as a radical campaign slogan. Today it is a pretty mainstream observation. The reality of how business activities can negatively affect the lives of people across the world has become inescapable. Business conversations at major gatherings such as the World Economic Forum […]
In collaboration with leading civil society organizations, we call on UN Secretary-General António Guterres and United Nations Private Sector Forum 2017 participants to connect sustainable development with business respect for human rights.
The complete letter is published on the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre website and is signed by the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre, the Danish Institute for Human Rights, the Institute for Human Rights and Business, the International Corporate Accountability Roundtable, Oxfam International and Shift. Also see: Our short framework for action for any company […]
This short framework for analysis and action offers a straightforward way for any company to work out how it should and can contribute to sustainable development.
Also see this Viewpoint as a PDF. What’s the current problem with the way some organizations are talking about business contributions to sustainable development – and what’s a better path forward? 1. The problem: misunderstanding the nature of respect for human rights The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are setting a new and increasingly accepted basis […]
In this keynote address to G20 countries, Shift Chair and Guiding Principles author John Ruggie argues that effectively managed global supply chains can be significant leverage points to make globalization work better for all.
On February 15, 2017, Shift Chair and author of the UN Guiding Principles John Ruggie delivered a keynote address to the G20 Labour and Employment Meeting in Hamburg. He was accompanied by Shift’s President, Caroline Rees. The complete text of Professor Ruggie’s address is below. Also see: Shift position paper on the connection between the UN Guiding Principles […]
Respect for the dignity of every person is at the very core of the people part of sustainable development — and is critical for a socially sustainable globalization.
The following is the full text of the keynote address delivered by Shift Chair and author of the Guiding Principles John Ruggie on November 14, 2016 to the UN Forum on Business and Human Rights in Geneva, Switzerland. Also see: Our short framework for action that any company should and can follow to contribute to sustainable development […]
For business to realize its full contribution to sustainable development, it must put efforts to advance respect for human rights at the heart of its strategy.
Also see: Our short framework for action that any company should and can follow to contribute to the SDGs Update: In January 2017 the Business and Sustainable Development Commission published a position paper on business’s role in sustainable development, Better Business, Better World. That position paper draws on a report authored by Shift and strongly supports our message that respect for human […]
International Bar Association President David. W. Rivkin writes about the far-reaching implications of the IBA's new Practical Guide for business lawyers on human rights.
by David W. Rivkin, President IBAAlso see: News announcement of publication of IBA Practical Guide | Practical Guide in our resource library New! On November 1, 2016, the IBA published a reference annex to the Practical Guide for business lawyers. On May 28, 2016, the International Bar Association (IBA) adopted the IBA Practical Guide on Business and […]
Five years after the endorsement of the Guiding Principles at the UN - and the founding of Shift - we reflect on five positive areas of progress, and five areas where urgent progress is needed.
A little over five years ago, we were sitting in a room at the United Nations in Geneva, eagerly awaiting the endorsement of a groundbreaking standard on business respect for human rights. On June 16, 2011, the UN Human Rights Council unanimously gave that endorsement to the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. […]
New guidance published by the UK Equality and Human Rights Commission tells company boards what they need to know about human rights.
Also see: Guidance | Information about this collaboration This Viewpoint was originally published by the UK Equality and Human Rights Commission. The UK Equality and Human Rights Commission launched a short but significant guide today for the directors of UK companies, developed in collaboration with Shift. Its title says it all: “Business and human rights: A five […]
This open letter was authored by Shift Chair John Ruggie and sent to the heads of the Global Commission on Business and Sustainable Development.
This open letter was authored by Shift Chair John Ruggie and sent to the heads of the Global Commission on Business and Sustainable Development (now called the Business and Sustainable Development Commission). It discusses the relationship between the Guiding Principles and the Sustainable Development Goals. Also see: Our November 2016 position paper commissioned by the Business and […]
How companies can avoid four stumbling blocks on the path to respect for human rights.
As the reach of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights extends across ever more corporate sectors and regions, we see increasing numbers of companies putting time, thought and resources into understanding what respect for human rights should mean for their business. We see human rights policies being launched, innovative practices to manage […]
The International Bar Association has issued draft guidance for legal professionals on the Guiding Principles.
Update: The draft guidance referred to in this Viewpoint was issued in final form by the IBA in June 2016. Lawyers can play a critical role in helping their clients respect human rights – including their corporate clients. Many lawyers from leading international law firms and in-house legal departments are already supporting their corporate clients’ efforts […]
Neither companies nor governments should fear that the treaty process in Geneva is a diversion from, or dilution of, what has been achieved in the last 10 years with the Guiding Principles.
This Viewpoint was originally published in CSRWire. In 2004, I was representing the UK Government in the United Nations Human Rights Commission (predecessor to today’s Human Rights Council) when the subject of business and human rights hit its agenda. The proposition was a set of draft human rights “Norms,” supposedly binding on business. Companies were […]
The UK Financial Reporting Council's new guidance lays out expectations for companies on reporting on human rights.
Also see: Shift’s reporting program | our resource library section on policy and regulations, including reporting requirements On June 9, the UK’s Financial Reporting Council (FRC) published guidance on the standards for corporate reporting that were introduced last year in the revised UK Companies Act. That law requires that all quoted companies report publicly on environmental matters, […]
The adoption of the EU law on non-financial reporting is a potentially pivotal moment for the advancement of responsible business conduct.
Last week, the European Parliament adopted a new directive – or law – under which around 6,000 companies will have to report publicly on how they manage the environmental, social and human rights risks associated with their operations. Specifically, they will have to report on the relevant policies they have in place and those policies’ outcomes, […]
A critical look at the role of companies in society, and the concept of shareholder value.
by Filip Gregor On February 11, 2014, Frank Bold (a purpose-driven law firm), the Cardiff Business School and Richard Howitt MEP, long-standing rapporteur of the European Parliament on corporate social responsibility (CSR), organized a conference in the European Parliament on the purpose of the corporation. The conference was the first major step in a project aspiring […]
Shift Chair and Guiding Principles author John Ruggie reflects on the implications of the Guiding Principles for lawyers.
On October 10, Shift and Microsoft jointly organized a dinner of in-house counsel and other lawyers to discuss the implications of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights for their work. Shift’s Chair, John Ruggie, spoke at the dinner and wrote the following blog about the event, which was also published by Microsoft […]
Can corporate avoidance of taxes also lead to human rights harms?
Corporate tax abuses have been increasingly in the media and political spotlight in recent months. Think of the CEOs of Google, Amazon and Starbucks being called in front of a British House of Commons committee to defend their “immoral” tax practices—said to involve the use of complex tax structures to avoid paying taxes in the […]
Moving from auditing and codes to business integration and long-term relationships.
Supply chain human rights issues continue to make the headlines. Even in industries like apparel, it seems we are far from solutions despite significant investments to address systemic supply chain human rights issues since the 1990s. Technological trends suggest that in the next several years we will enter an age of “hyper-transparency” in upstream and […]
Skilled mediators can help resolve complex company-community conflicts.
Also see: Cost of corporate-community conflict | Video series on corporate-community dialogue | Our resource library section on stakeholder engagement Experienced African facilitators, mediators, and leaders of conflict prevention organizations came together in a February 2013 expert roundtable on third party roles in the prevention and resolution of company-community conflicts in Africa. They considered conflicts including articulated grievances […]
As Myanmar opens for business, how can companies ensure they hear from potentially affected people?
In 2011, the government of Myanmar, led by President Thein Sein, initiated a number of political and economic reforms to open the country up to the outside world. Last month, the European Union lifted all sanctions (except for an arms embargo) against Myanmar. Yet the very same day – April 22 – Human Rights Watch […]
Hard and soft law developments with implications for lawyers as they advise corporate clients on human rights.
The core responsibility of business under the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights is to respect human rights, and to adopt policies, processes, and systems that enable them to know and show that they do so. So how should lawyers advise their corporate clients regarding this responsibility? This is not an idle question, […]
This Viewpoint by Shift Chair and Guiding Principles author John Ruggie looks at the early years of implementation of the Guiding Principles.
First published in June 2011, the UN Human Rights Council unanimously endorsed a set of Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights that I had developed following nearly 50 international consultations. This marked the end of my six-year mandate as Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General (SRSG) for Business and Human Rights. And it represented […]