UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (Ruggie Guidelines)

The Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights are the UN’s international established standards governing business practices. The guidelines apply to all states and business enterprises and are aimed at eliminating human rights violations that result from certain business operations. The Human Rights Council endorsed the Guiding Principles on 16 June 2011. John Ruggie advanced the debate on business and human rights during his five year mandate (2005–2011), and elaborated the ‘protect, respect and remedy’ framework.

Goal: The goal of the principles is to recognize and realize the following principles:

a)      States’ existing obligations to respect, protect and fulfill human rights and fundamental freedoms;

b)      The role of business enterprises as specialized organs of society performing specialized functions, required to comply with all applicable laws and to respect human rights;

c)       The need for rights and obligations to be matched to appropriate and effective remedies when breached.

Relevant Clauses: [i]

I.            The State Duty to Protect Human Rights


A.      Foundational principles

1.       States must protect against human rights abuse within their territory and/or jurisdiction by third parties, including business enterprises.  […]

4.       States should take additional steps to protect against human rights abuses by business enterprises that are owned or controlled by the State, or that receive substantial support and services from State agencies […]


II.            The Corporate Responsibility to Respect Human Rights


11.   Business enterprises should respect human rights. […]

12.   The responsibility of business enterprises to respect human rights refers to internationally recognized human rights  […]  as those expressed in the International Bill of Human Rights and the […]  International Labour Organization’s Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work.

13.   The responsibility to respect human rights requires that business enterprises:

a)      Avoid causing or contributing to adverse human rights impacts  […] , and address such impacts when they occur;

b)      Seek to prevent or mitigate adverse human rights impacts that are directly linked to their operations, products or services by their business relationships, even if they have not contributed to those impacts.

14.   The responsibility of business enterprises to respect human rights applies to all enterprises […]

15.    […]  business enterprises should have in place policies and processes appropriate to their size and circumstances, including:

a)      A policy commitment  […]  to respect human rights;

b)      A human rights due diligence process to identify, prevent, mitigate and account for how they address their impacts on human rights;

c)       Processes to enable the remediation of any adverse human rights impacts they cause or to which they contribute.

22.   Where business enterprises  […]  have caused or contributed to adverse impacts, they should provide for  […]  remediation through legitimate processes.



[i]United Nations Office of the High Comissionerfor Human Rights. (2013). Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. Retrieved August 26, 2013, from New Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights endorsed by the UN Human Rights Council: http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Publications/GuidingPrinciplesBusinessHR_EN.pdf