OHCHR Calls for Inputs into Practical Application of UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights to Technology Companies

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Michelle Bachelet Jeria
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)

The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) is calling for inputs into an expert consultation on applying the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs) to technology companies, as requested by the Human Rights Council in July 2021.

The Human Rights Council had requested the Office of the High Commissioner in resolution 47/23 entitled “New and emerging digital technologies and human rights” to, inter alia, convene an expert consultation to discuss the practical application of the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights to the activities of technology companies, and to submit a report thereon, reflecting the discussions held in an inclusive and comprehensive manner, to the Human Rights Council at its fiftieth session.

The Human Rights Council resolution particularly requested the Office of the High Commissioner to seek input from and to take into account the relevant work already done by stakeholders from diverse geographic regions, including States, international and regional organizations, the Advisory Committee, the special procedures of the Human Rights Council, the treaty bodies, other relevant United Nations agencies, funds and programmes, including the International Telecommunication Union, other relevant standard development organizations, and the Office of the Envoy of Secretary-General on Technology, within their respective mandates, national human rights institutions, civil society, the private sector, the technical community and academic institutions.

Member States are invited to provide relevant inputs related to the four themes of the consultation as follows:

  1. The role of States in promoting respect for human rights by technology companies.
  2. The role of States in relation to human rights due diligence on the use of technology companies’ products or services.
  3. Challenges related to the ability of State-based judicial and non-judicial grievance mechanisms to provide for accountability and remedy in case of human rights abuses relating to technology companies and potential solutions to address and/or overcome such challenges.
  4. Lessons learnt and good practices to advance implementation of the Guiding Principles in the technology sector.

Other stakeholders are invited to provide information and share views on the practical application of the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights to the activities of technology companies, as well as provide input related to the four themes of the consultation, namely: addressing human rights risks in business models (session one); human Rights Due Diligence and end-use (session two); accountability and remedy (session three); and the State’s duty to protect, or regulatory and policy responses (session four).

These focus areas build on the OHCHR B-tech project, which aims to advance the uptake of the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights in the tech industry.

Inputs should be submitted by email latest February 23, 2022 to OHCHR-bhr@un.org with the subject line: “Input for OHCHR report on the application of the UNGPs in the tech sector”. KIt should not be more than 2,500 words and should be submitted in Microsoft Word or PDF format in English, French, or Spanish.