Independent Review and Recommendations for FIFA on Human Rights

Jump to: Press release from announcement of review and report, Dec. 2015  | Report | Press release on report, April 2016

Update: In March 2017 Shift Managing Director and Co-Founder Rachel Davis joined the newly established FIFA Human Rights Advisory Board. We see our participation in this Board as a significant opportunity to push for FIFA’s implementation of the April 2016 report For the Game. For the World. FIFA and Human Rights (link above), authored by John Ruggie with support from Shift. In our participation on this Board, we retain complete independence and do not accept any financial or other compensation for our time.

In December 2015, Shift Chair, Harvard professor and author of the Guiding Principles John Ruggie was asked by the world governing body of football FIFA to develop recommendations for embedding the Guiding Principles into FIFA’s policies and practices. In April 2016, those recommendations were published in an independent public report. The recommendations are based on a comprehensive review of human rights in the context of FIFA’s activities and events including consultations with internal and external stakeholders.

Ruggie was supported by a team from Shift and consulted with a range of internal and external stakeholder to undertake the review and develop his recommendations.

“FIFA’s global reach means that this initiative has the potential to make a difference where it matters most: in the daily lives of people,” said Ruggie. “I fully recognize that there will be challenges and complex change takes time. However, this has the potential to set the bar for other global sports organizations, and place respect for human rights front and center for a broad range of entities involved in global sporting events.”

“This is another important step in our ongoing reform process,” said acting FIFA President Issa Hayatou. “I am proud to see that FIFA is taking the lead among international sports organizations on such an important topic. Football and FIFA have an important role to play in this field; respect for human rights has to be at the core of our sport.”

This initiative builds on FIFA’s commitment to recognizing the relevance of the UN Guiding Principles to its operations, seeking technical support from the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, and announcing publicly its plans to make the Guiding Principles part of how it conducts its activities.

Guidance for UK Company Directors on Human Rights

This guidance was published in May 2016. Also see our Viewpoint on this topic and the announcement from the launch of the guidance.

Shift is pleased to have collaborated with the UK’s Equality and Human Rights Commission and Financial Reporting Council to develop guidance for board directors in the UK on human rights disclosure and performance. The guidance was launched in May 2016 — see our links above.

The project’s objectives were to improve UK-quoted company boards’ and investors’ understanding of the corporate responsibility to respect human rights, as well as the quality of companies’ human rights reporting and disclosure.

The project began in September 2015 and had three phases. The first phase included consultations with board directors, investors, advisors to boards and civil society organizations to explore appropriate content for the guidance. This phase included events in London, Manchester and Edinburgh. In the second phase, the project team developed and refined drafts of the guidance for directors on human rights disclosure and performance with input from an expert advisory group, consisting of leading individuals from board, investor and board advisor (including legal) backgrounds. The guidance was launched at a London event in May 2016 featuring speakers from the UK Equality and Human Rights Commission, Barclays, BT Group, Hermes EOS and Shift.

Building the Capacity of OECD National Contact Points

Over a period of several years, Shift supported several National Contact Point (NCP) systems to help them better fulfill their role as part of the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises. The Guidelines are closely aligned with the Guiding Principles when it comes to the expectations of businesses to respect human rights.

This work included:

  • Supporting the Danish National Contact Point — the Mediation and Complaints-Handling Institution for Responsible Business Conduct — as it undertook a peer review process. This built on Shift’s previous work supporting the Norwegian NCP as it underwent a similar review in early 2014.
  • In 2014, Shift also provided expert support to the OECD Secretariat to conduct a range of capacity building workshops and activities with NCPs. Shift partnered with the Consensus Building Institute in this work. Specific, we delivered:
    • A workshop to build the mediation skills and capacity of the Nordic group of NCPs in Oslo, Norway;
    • The first “horizontal peer review” session among the NCPs at their annual meeting in Paris in June 2014, focused on strengthening good practices and sharing learning on handling the initial assessment phase of specific instances;
    • A capacity building workshop with the Middle East and North African group of NCPs (Egypt, Jordan, Morocco and Tunisia) in Rabat, Morocco;
    • A workshop to build the mediation skills and capacity of the Latin American group of NCPs in Santiago, Chile.

Embedding Respect for Human Rights in Key Company Functions

In 2014, Shift provided expert support to CSR Europe – the leading European business network for corporate social responsibility – to help its member companies understand how to effectively embed respect for human rights across their operations, and particularly in the key functions in human resources, procurement and risk. | See all our resources about embedding

Embedding can be thought of as the macro-level process of ensuring that a company’s responsibility to respect human rights is driven across the organization, into its business, values and culture. The Guiding Principles do not prescribe a single approach for how companies should embed their responsibility to respect; what is most effective will depend on an individual company’s context, including its corporate culture, types of business activities, and the positioning of different functions internally.

Shift has identified a number of critical elements for successful embedding, including:

  • Two-way communication between management and operational staff, including about challenges and how they can be addressed;
  • Setting appropriate performance goals for all staff to align incentives;
  • Cross-functional coordination and leadership;
  • Shared responsibility for outcomes, including those with responsibility for the activities or business relationships that may give rise to human rights risks;
  • Tailored operational guidance and continuous training;
  • Regular analysis of the company’s performance.

Shift’s support to CSR Europe involved research and webinars exploring these various elements of embedding, including identifying examples of how different companies have sought to embed the responsibility to respect in each of the three functions identified above. Shift also led a workshop for CSR Europe member companies on these issues in Brussels, hosted by Microsoft. The research and workshop discussions formed the basis of a public report by CSR Europe released in 2015. CSR Europe also drew on this collaboration in the production of their 2016 report Blueprint for Embedding Human Rights in Key Company Functions.

Building Capacity on the UN Guiding Principles in Ghana

Shift was pleased to support the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) in Ghana in 2014 to advance business respect for human rights. CHRAJ is Ghana’s National Human Rights Institution with a mandate to promote and protect fundamental human rights and freedoms in Ghana. In implementing this mandate, CHRAJ is closely involved in national discussions about business and human rights and implementation of the Guiding Principles by the government and businesses operating in Ghana.

The presence of a number of extractive and agribusiness companies has brought heightened attention to preventing and addressing business impacts on society in Ghana. There is relevant experience on both the company and civil society sides engaging on these issues, and CHRAJ had identified opportunities to strengthen capacity across all three key stakeholder groups – government, business and civil society – in understanding and implementing the Guiding Principles.

In 2014, Shift and CHRAJ jointly organized three capacity building workshops for stakeholder groups on the Guiding Principles in Accra. Shift and CHRAJ collaborated with the Dutch NGO, the Centre for Research on Multinational Enterprises (SOMO), which hosts the OECD Watch network, in delivering the civil society capacity building workshop.

Our reporting program, begun in 2016, includes Ghana as a focus country — learn more about the initiative.

Supporting Norway’s Export Credit Agency on the Guiding Principles

“Shift has given us unique, expert insight and tools that have enabled us to pragmatically work toward our goal of effectively implementing the UN Guiding Principles.” 

Kamil Zabielski, Senior Social and Human Rights Specialist, GIEK

Shift is pleased to have worked closely with the Norwegian Export Credit Guarantee Agency (Garanti-instituttet for eksportkreditt-GIEK) (“GIEK”) to help it further align its approach to environmental and social due diligence with the Guiding Principles.

GIEK is a recognized leader among the OECD group of Export Credit Agencies (ECAs) in the development of policies and practices to manage environmental and human rights impacts. GIEK was among the first ECAs to adopt an explicit environmental and human rights policy and associated due diligence procedure.

Shift provided expert support to GIEK in 2013 in the development of these policies. In 2014, Shift worked with GIEK to explore how it could strengthen its stakeholder engagement and grievance pathways with regard to the transactions it supports.

Also seeour work with various financial institutions on the Guiding Principles | suppport to the Norwegian OECD National Contact Point

Supporting Effective Factory-Level Grievance Mechanisms With the Better Work Programme

Over the past several years, the International Labour Organization’s (ILO) Better Work Programme has been working with apparel factories in several developing economies to improve compliance with international labor standards and competitiveness in global supply chains. Better Work’s Enterprise Advisors engage with factory management and workers to improve industrial relations, strengthen systems and processes, and support sustainable improvements in working conditions at the factory level.

One important tool for achieving these objectives is effective grievance mechanisms, which can play an important role in identifying, preventing and remediating issues of concern on the factory floor. Factory-level grievance mechanisms can help support workers’ ability to raise concerns and seek remedy in the workplace, enable factory management to understand and address those issues before they escalate, and provide global brands and retailers with an important source of data about factory conditions in their supply chains and help build confidence that suppliers have the systems in place to prevent and address their human rights risks.

As the Guiding Principles make clear, such mechanisms should not undermine the role of legitimate trade unions; indeed, industrial relations processes involving management and those unions are themselves a form of grievance mechanism.

In collaboration with Better Work staff, Shift developed a manual for Enterprise Advisors to integrate guidance on effective factory-level grievance mechanisms into the support that Better Work provides to factories. The practical guidance is intended to enable Enterprise Advisors to facilitate and accompany factory management and workers through the process of understanding what effective grievance mechanisms are, how they can contribute to improved worker-management engagement, with an emphasis on supporting and involving trade unions, and key steps in designing and implementing such mechanisms.

Shift led a capacity-building workshop for a representative group of Enterprise Advisors from Indonesia, Vietnam, Cambodia and Lesotho in Jakarta in November 2013 provided continuing support to those Advisors as they worked with factories in the months following the workshop.

Also see: resources on remedy and grievance mechanisms

Supporting the OECD on Stakeholder Engagement in the Extractive Sector

Update: In 2016, the OECD published the OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Meaningful Stakeholder Engagement in the Extractive Sector.

The OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises set out a range of recommendations with regard to responsible business conduct. Following their revision in 2011, they now include a new chapter on human rights, which mirrors the language of the Guiding Principles. They also include a new provision regarding stakeholder engagement, which states:

“Enterprises should engage with relevant stakeholders in order to provide meaningful opportunities for their views to be taken into account in relation to planning and decision-making for projects and/or other activities that may significantly impact local communities.” (Chapter II.14)

Shift is pleased to have collaborated with the OECD to explore the potential for new guidance on the implementation of this provision of the Guidelines. This collaboration was part of the OECD’s “proactive agenda,” led by the governments of Canada and Norway.

Shift submitted a discussion paper in June 2013 on stakeholder engagement in the extractive industry, setting out options and recommendations for a proposed “user guide” to address this issue. The paper considers how best to build on existing guidance and address relevant gaps. It was discussed at the inaugural meeting of the OECD Global Forum on Responsible Business Conduct in June 2013.

Related to the OECD Guidelines, also see:

Collaborating With the IFC on Guidance for High Risk Contexts

Jump toOverview of our work with financial institutions on the Guiding Principles | Our report on human rights due diligence in high risk circumstances

In alignment with the International Finance Corporation’s (IFC) revised Performance Standards on Environmental and Social Sustainability, the IFC has been exploring the development good practice guidance for its private sector clients on the issue of human rights due diligence in high risk circumstances. Shift provided expert input to the IFC in 2013 on the content of potential guidance.

The Performance Standards’ requirements regarding the environmental and social due diligence processes that all IFC-financed projects must have in place are robust; however, the Performance Standards themselves recognize that, in certain high risk circumstances, it may be appropriate for companies to complement these processes with specific human rights due diligence (see Performance Standard 1, footnote 12). This raises two key framing questions that any guidance on this issue should address:

  1. Under what circumstances might specific human rights due diligence be appropriate;
  2. What should human rights due diligence entail in such high risk circumstances?

Any IFC guidance on these questions would need to be practical, relevant and grounded in the challenging realities facing companies that operate in complex, high-risk contexts. It should also build upon existing resources for companies on these issues, and seek to ensure a convergence of guidance wherever appropriate.

While the immediate audience for good practice guidance issued by the IFC is IFC client companies, the impact of the Performance Standards extends well beyond IFC-financed projects – providing a global benchmark referenced by numerous public and private financial institutions, as well as informing the policies and practices of many companies operating in emerging markets.

This collaboration informed a report that we published in 2015 on human rights due diligence in high risk circumstances.

Advising the German Labor Ministry on Implementation of the UN Guiding Principles

In 2012, the German Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs put out a request for advice on the implementation of the Guiding Principles. Shift worked with the German sustainability organization adelphi and our other project partners — the Danish Institute for Human Rights and Tilburg University — to conduct this work. | Learn more about our engagement with the German government on its National Action Plan on business and human rights

The study includes a review of the expectations of German business and civil society stakeholders regarding government assistance and guidance in the implementation of the Guiding Principles; an evaluation of best practice examples from other relevant states; and concrete recommendations for action.