October 5th, 2019

  • Introduction

The UN Guiding Principles on Human Rights within Community Organizations and Business Organizations are the official global standard on workers' rights and the nature of work within these enterprises, these principles were unanimously endorsed by the United Nations Human Rights Council on  June 16th, 2011.The principles outline how to prevent and address negative impacts on human being, these guidelines apply to all states and to all organizations and businesses worldwide.

Guidelines and civil society​                                                                                 

Civil society is considered the third sector of society along with government and business, as defined by the United Nations, the civil society sector consists of civil society organizations and non-governmental organizations.Together with organizations and businesses, the United Nations has adopted ten global principles, beginning from supporting human rights protection to action against corruption.

Civil society is considered the third sector of society along with government and business, as defined by the United Nations, the civil society sector consists of civil society organizations and non-governmental organizations.Together with organizations and businesses, the United Nations has adopted ten global principles, beginning from supporting human rights protection to action against corruption.

The work of these principles starts with calling on organizations and businesses to align their strategies, work and internal organization with the universal principles of human rights, labor and anti-corruption, and take measures that promote community goals and establish a culture of integrity.

  • Guidelines and Human Rights

The idea of ​​human rights is as simple as it is powerful and whatever its definition, it always revolves around who is entitled to be treated with dignity. Human rights are inherent for all human beings, irrespective of any difference between them due to nationality, place of residence, national or ethnic origin, color, religion, language, gender or any other status. Everyone has the right to enjoy human rights without discrimination, which are interdependent and indivisible.

Human rights are often expressed and ensured by law, in the form of treaties, through customary international law, general principles, and other sources of international law. International human rights law imposes obligations on States to act in certain ways or to refrain from certain acts, in order to promote and protect the human rights and fundamental freedoms of individuals or groups.

The ten United Nations Guiding Principles on Human Rights within Community and Business Organizations derive from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, The International Labour Organization- ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work, the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, and the United Nations Convention against Corruption.

  • Civil Society and Human Rights

International human rights treaties generally do not impose any direct legal obligations on community organizations and businesses. States commits to translate their obligations under international human rights law into domestic laws and provide for their enforcement.

In fact, the laws of all States include various means of protection against human rights violations by community-based organizations and institutions, including labor laws, non-discrimination laws, health and safety laws, environmental laws and the like. At the same time, national laws may not address all internationally recognized human rights , might be weak, do not apply to all people, or may not be enforced by governments and courts.

It is also difficult for organizations and institutions to fulfill this responsibility when States do not have appropriate standards and regulations or fail to enforce it effectively, or even have laws that directly contradict with international human rights standards.

This means that all organizations must proactively develop a number of appropriate policies and processes to respect human rights. These organizations need to add these standards to their value chain, especially in countries where governments fail to fulfill their human rights obligations, and work to make additional efforts to respect human rights in the light of a risky environment.

The guidelines make it clear that when national laws are below level of human rights which are internationally recognized. Community organizations and businesses must respect standards at the required international level, and when national laws contravene these standards they must seek ways to continue to respect those principles and standards within the limits of national law.

The Human Rights Guidelines provide the main reference points for organizations in understanding what human rights are; how the activities and management of those organizations affect their employees, and the public and their social responsibility. It represents an invitation to look at the rights of disadvantaged, marginalized or excluded persons from society, groups such as children, women, persons belonging to ethnic minorities or persons with disabilities, and others who are negatively affected at the expense of their human rights.

  •  UN Guidelines on Human Rights within Community Organizations

The Guiding Principles of the UN Human Rights Council were adopted unanimously by the governments of the world on  June 16th ,2011.

  • The four pillars of human rights guidelines within organizations:
  1. Alignment: integrating the ten human rights guidelines into the strategies and processes of organizations and institutions.
  2. Responsibility: the sense of duty to act carefully to avoid violating the rights of others and to address the harmful effects involved.
  3. Need for Fairness: any person who’s the organization's activities have contributed to causing him harm whether its internal environment or external audience.
  4. Community Goals: promoting broader community goals, such as the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, with a focus on cooperation and innovation.
  • Responsibility of organizations toward respecting human rights:

Community-based organizations often participate in the human rights impact collection, as they often demand the maximum amount of work possible and reaching a certain level of achievement. Many organizations disregard human rights standards and responsibility whether intentionally or unintentionally in many of their policies, processes, and behavior towards their employees or their audience;  this accrue in an environment of exploitation and poor national control due to weak laws or fragile administrative and judicial procedures.

The responsibility of organizations to respect human rights, as set out in the second pillar of the Guidelines, is a standard of conduct for those organizations, which presupposes that organizations should have a statement of their policy obligation to respect human rights, exercise due diligence in assessing their actual and potential human rights impacts, and track their performance in order to take action to prevent or mitigate potential risks; ensure that individuals affected by their policies and negative impact have access to their rights.

  • Key features of the responsibility of organizations to respect human rights in the light of the guidelines:

The Guidelines outline the steps which the States should take to promote respect for human rights by community-based and business organizations, and provide a plan for those institutions to learn , respect human rights and reduce the risk of causing or contributing to human rights. A set of criteria for stakeholders is used to assess the extent to which the work of institutions respects human rights.

The ten UN Guiding Principles on Human Rights within Community and Business Organizations have four main tasks:

  1. Human rights: Community organizations should support and respect the protection of internationally declared human rights and ensure that they are not involved in human rights violations.
  2. Employment: The working environment must be free from any form of discrimination in employment , eliminate all shapesof forced and compulsory labor, and eliminate child labor.
  3. Environment: Businesses should support a preventive approach to environmental challenges, take initiatives to expand environmental responsibility, promote the development and deployment of environmentally friendly technologies.
  4. Anti-corruption: Organizations must work to combat corruption in all its forms, including extortion and bribery.

The concept of the responsibility of organizations and businesses for the human rights violations they cause is a relatively new in the context of international human rights law. However, the main principles and values ​​that led to the development of this concept are deeply rooted in many international conventions and treaties. Recent years have witnessed a boom in the number and diversity of conventions and agreements that attempt to address many of the backwards and negatives resulting from the activities of these institutions. It has worked to develop the responsibilities of States and institutions and emphasized on the need to protect the rights of individuals and communities affected by the policies and activities of these institutions.

The Guiding Principles on Human Rights within Organizations and Businesses raised the slogan “Protection, Respect and fairness” and for the first time introduced a global standard to prevent and address the risk of human rights being exposed to adverse effects associated with the activities of organizations. These included the participation of governments, civil society, companies, business associations, investors and others who should work by these principles.

The use of the guiding framework has become widely used by intergovernmental and national organizations, civil society, non-governmental organizations, business and labor organizations and other stakeholders, which means that the principles of the United Nations are organized under three main basis: the State's duty to protect human rights, the responsibility of community organizations and businesses to respect human rights, and the need to increase access to justice for victims of violations related to institutional practices.