Editor’s note: Katharine Booth holds a LLM,
Advanced Programme in European and International Human Rights Law from Leiden
University, Netherlands and a LLB and BA from the University of New South
Wales, Australia. She is currently working with the Asser Institute in The
Hague. She previously worked for a Supreme Court Justice and as lawyer in
On 12 February 2020, the United Nations High
Commissioner for Human Rights (Commissioner) issued a report on all business
enterprises involved in certain activities relating to Israeli settlements in
the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT) (Report). The Report contains a database of
112 businesses that the Commissioner has reasonable grounds to conclude have
been involved in certain activities in Israeli settlements in the West Bank. Of
the businesses listed, 94 are domiciled in Israel and the remaining 18 in 6
other countries: France, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Thailand, the UK and the US.
Many of the latter are household names in digital tourism, such as Airbnb,
Booking, Expedia, Opodo and TripAdvisor, as well as Motorola. More...
note: Shamistha Selvaratnam is a LLM Candidate of the Advanced Masters of
European and International Human Rights Law at Leiden University in the
Netherlands. Prior to commencing the LLM, she worked as a business and human
rights solicitor in Australia where she specialised in promoting business
respect for human rights through engagement with policy, law and practice.
The UNGPs second pillar, the corporate
respect for human rights, is built around the concept of human rights due
diligence (HRDD). Since 2011, following the resounding endorsement of the UNGPs
by the Human Rights Council, it has become clear that HRDD constitutes a
complex ecology of diverse practices tailored to the specific context of a
particular business. The UNGPs are not legally binding and there is no
institutional mechanism in place to control how they are to be translated into
practice by the companies that purport to endorse them. Nonetheless, numerous
companies and regulatory schemes have embraced the idea of HRDD (such as the
OECD Guidelines, the French law on the devoir
de vigilance, the UK and Australian modern slavery laws and the Dutch
Agreement on Sustainable Garment and Textile).
The operationalisation of HRDD has been
shaped over the past 8.5 years by a variety of actors, including international
organisations, consultancies and audit firms, as well as non-governmental
organisations. These actors have conducted research and developed various
methodologies, instruments and tools to define what HRDD is and what it entails
in order to assist or influence businesses in its operationalisation. The
interpretation of the requirements imposed by HRDD process outlined in the
UNGPs is open to a variety of potentially contradictory interpretations. This
pluralism is well illustrated by the diversity of actors involved in an ongoing
struggle to define its scope and implications.
This second blog of a series of articles
dedicated to HRDD looks at it through the lens of the most influential players shaping
HRDD in practice by examining their various perspectives and contributions to
the concept. Case studies will then be undertaken to look at how HRDD has materialised
in practice in specific companies. To wrap up the series, a final piece will
reflect on the effectiveness of the turn to HRDD to strengthen respect for
human rights by businesses. More...