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Corporate Accountability and Human Rights

Human Rights Watch Statement to the 61st Session of the Commission on Human Rights, Agenda Item 17: Promotion and Protection of Human Rights

Human Rights Watch welcomes the Commission’s efforts to address corporate accountability for human rights abuses. A recent report by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), prepared at the Commission’s request, makes a valuable contribution.

We are encouraged by indications that member states on the Commission may appoint a high-level expert on business and human rights to examine these important issues. In our view, the expert must be truly independent and have human rights expertise. The expert’s mandate should include studying outstanding issues identified in the OHCHR report, analyzing standards of corporate responsibility and available implementation mechanisms, and proposing additional measures to address accountability for abuses. Moreover, the independent expert should engage in consultations with relevant stakeholders, including affected communities, and provide regular reports on progress. This process should build upon the U.N. Norms.

Last year the Commission indicated its interest to “identify options for strengthening standards (…) and possible means of implementation” on the human rights responsibilities of businesses. It must not step back from that goal. The Commission should call for an independent, qualified expert with a strong mandate.

Thank you.

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