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UNGP's 10th anniversary

June 2021 marks the tenth anniversary of the endorsement by the Human Rights Council of United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs). A major step forward in efforts to prevent and address business-related human rights abuse, they provide a global authoritative framework for State duties and business responsibilities to achieve the UNGPs' vision of "tangible results for affected individuals and communities, and thereby also contributing to a socially sustainable globalization."

To assess the first decade of UNGPs implementation and develop a roadmap for meaningful action in the decade ahead, the UNGPs 10+ Project seeks to shine a light on the responsibility of institutional investors—asset owners and managers—to respect human rights as key to promote the speed and scale of business respect for human rights in the next decade. 

To mark the occasion, it launched the report "Taking stock of investor implementation of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights." This report is part of UNGPs 10+ Project, launched in July 2020 by the Working Group on business and transnational corporations and other business enterprises to take stock of implementation of the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs) to date and chart a course for increased action by States and businesses in the next decade.

Anthony Miller, coordinator of UN SSE initiative, participated in the launch webinar and said, “We are happy to join with the rest of the UN community, member States, businesses and other key stakeholders to celebrate this important 10 year anniversary. In SSE’s work with stock exchanges on sustainability reporting, we see that human rights issues have made good progress in being integrated into the mainstream recommendations of markets around the world. This is a success for the UNGPs’ first decade. For the next decade, more can be done to further strengthen the awareness of the UNGPs among markets, the implementation of sustainability reporting recommendations among issuers and the availability of data for monitoring and accountability.

Stock exchange guidance on human rights disclosure

UN SSE initiative published a policy brief on Stock exchange guidance on human rights disclosure. This report provides an analysis of human rights references in ESG disclosure guidance documents produced by stock exchanges. 

Most of the stock exchanges (48 out of 56) mentioned human rights in their ESG disclosure guidance. Indirect references to human rights issues (e.g. references to labour practices, diversity or social responsibility) are also widely referenced. When looking at references to direct, or specific, human rights instruments though less than half of the stock exchanges mention these. The Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights is referenced less than a quarter of the time (16 out of 55).

The findings indicate that stock exchange guidance to issuers on human rights disclosure is becoming a mainstream market practice, though the focus is more on the indirect elements that make up human rights issues more generally. There are less disclosure recommendations focused on direct references to human rights policies or instruments.