Human Rights Obligations on Companies: Important Legal Developments

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Introduction -

The requirement that businesses take steps to ensure respect for human rights is no longer simply a matter of good governance and “soft” law. Companies involved in international businesses must comply with newly developed binding legal obligations. Failure to do so may result in legal sanctions, public criticism by an official body and reputational damage which may have far reaching commercial consequences.

The UK Government took an important step in this area on 4 September 2013, when it launched an action plan on business and human rights (the “UK Action Plan”). The UK Government described the UK Action Plan as the UK’s national implementation plan for the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (the “UN Guiding Principles”).1 The UK Action Plan confirms that the UK Government expects UK businesses to consider and respect human rights, and to comply with the UN Guiding Principles.

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