Business and human rights: UN working group’s visit providing opportunity to make submissions

The UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights is currently visiting Canada as part of its ongoing assessment of how to implement the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. It has invited interested parties to respond to a questionnaire, which focuses on what remedies should be available to persons who claim violations of their human rights. The working group’s consultation may be of particular interest to the resource and mining sectors.


A delegation representing the United Nations Working Group on Business and Human Rights is visiting Canada from May 23 to June 1, 2017. The working group is part of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and consists of international experts and academics. The delegation will be visiting Ottawa, Toronto, Edmonton, Calgary, Williams Lake, BC, and Vancouver. Its tour will conclude with a press conference at the National Press Building (National Press Theatre)1 at noon on June 1, 2017, which is open only to journalists.

The purpose of the working group’s visit is to examine efforts to prevent and address the human rights impacts of Canadian business operations on members of the public, particularly vulnerable groups and individuals, and to assess what steps should be taken to ensure respect for human rights by Canadian companies operating abroad.2 The working group is expected to focus on potential human rights impacts arising from activities in the resource and mining sector, and to consider what remedies should be available to individuals and groups claiming to have been affected by human rights violations.

The working group will meet with government representatives, companies and business associations, civil society and trade unions, human rights activists and members of indigenous communities. Based on information it receives in these consultations, the working group will prepare a report for the UN Human Rights Council.

As part of this process, the working group is soliciting short submissions from interested stakeholders, including business enterprises.3 These submissions are limited to 2,000 words and must be submitted to wg-business@ohchr.org by June 15, 2017. This is a rare opportunity to provide input into the UN business and human rights process. We would be happy to assist any clients or trade associations who are interested in preparing submissions. The questionnaire can be viewed here.  

The authors would like to thank Milomir Strbac, summer student, for his assistance in preparing this update.

Footnotes

1 150 Wellington Street, Ottawa ON.

2 OHCHR. (May 18, 2017). Canada: UN expert group to assess impact of business operations on human rights. News and Events. <http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=21631&LangID=E>

3  OHCHR. Questionnaire for other stakeholders regarding access to remedy in relation to business-related human rights abuses.

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