Draft Universal Human Rights Guidelines for Companies, Addendum 1, U.N. Doc. E/CN.4/Sub.2/2001/WG.2/WP.1/Add.1 (2001).


Addendum 1:  Draft Universal Human Rights Guidelines for Companies


The following Draft Universal Human Rights Guidelines for Companies is introduced in U.N. Doc. E/CN.4/Sub.2/2001/X.  Addendum 2 contains both the proposed draft language and the principal materials that served as the basis for each provision of the draft guidelines. 






Recalling that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights proclaims a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations, to the end that governments, other organs of society, and individuals shall strive by teaching and education to promote respect for human rights and freedoms and by progressive measures to secure their universal and effective recognition and observance,


Recognizing that even though governments have the primary responsibility to promote and protect human rights, companies, as organs of society, are also responsible for promoting and securing the human rights elaborated by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,


Realizing that companies, their officers, and their workers are further obligated directly or indirectly to respect international human rights and other international legal standards in many U.N. treaties and other international instruments such as the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide; the International Convention Against Torture and Other Forms of Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment; the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination; the Convention on the Elimination of  All Forms of Discrimination Against Women; the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights; International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights; the Convention on the Rights of the Child; the four Geneva Conventions for the Protection of Victims of Armed Conflict; the Nuremberg Charter; the Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms; the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court; the Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime; the Convention on Civil Liability for Oil Pollution Damage; the Convention on Civil Liability for Damage Resulting from Activities Dangerous to the Environment; the Charter on Fundamental Rights of the European Union, the OECD’s Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions, and other instruments,


Aware of the labour and other standards elaborated in the conventions and recommendations of the International Labour Organization and its Tripartite Declaration of Principles Concerning Multinational Enterprises and Social Policy as well as the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, and the U.N. Global Compact initiative which challenges business leaders to “embrace and enact” nine basic principles with respect to human rights, labour, and the environment,


Conscious of the efforts of the ILO Committee on Multinational Enterprises, the OECD Committee on International Investment and Multinational Enterprises, and similar mechanisms, including the ILO Committee on Freedom of Association which has named companies implicated in governments’ failure to comply with ILO Conventions 87 and 98, and seeking to supplement and assist their efforts to encourage companies to protect human rights,


Taking note of global trends which have increased the power and influence of companies – and particularly transnational corporations -- on the economies of most countries and in international economic relations; and the growing number of companies which operate across national boundaries in a variety of arrangements resulting in economic activities beyond the reach of any one national system,


Noting that companies have a human rights impact on the lives of individuals through their employment practices, environmental policies, relationships with suppliers and consumers, interactions with governments, and other activities,


Taking into account the universality, indivisibility, interdependence, and interrelatedness of human rights, including the right to development that entitles every human person and all peoples to participate in; contribute to; and enjoy economic, social, cultural, and political development in which all human rights and fundamental freedoms can be fully realized,


Reaffirming that companies already have human rights responsibilities and that setting forth these human rights guidelines will supplement existing internationally recognized laws and standards and will aid in the clarification of those responsibilities, 


Solemnly proclaims these Universal Human Rights Guidelines for Companies and urges that

every effort be made so that they becomes generally known and respected:


A.        General Obligations


1.         While governments have the primary obligation to respect, ensure respect for, and promote internationally recognized human rights, companies also have the obligation to respect, ensure respect for, and promote international human rights within their respective spheres of activity and influence. 


2.         Nothing in these Guidelines shall diminish the human rights obligations of governments.




a.      Companies shall inform themselves of the human rights impact of their principal activities and major proposed activities, so that they can avoid complicity in human rights abuses.  Companies shall have the responsibility to ensure that their business activities do not contribute directly or indirectly to human rights abuses, and that they do not knowingly benefit from these abuses.  Companies shall further refrain from activities that would undermine the rule of law as well as governmental and other efforts to promote and ensure respect for human rights, and shall use their influence in order to help promote and ensure respect for human rights.  The Guidelines may not be used by governments as an excuse for failing to take action to protect human rights, for example, through the enforcement of existing laws.


B.        Right to Equal Treatment


3.      Companies shall pursue policies which promote equality of opportunity and treatment, with a view towards eliminating discrimination based on race, colour, sex, religion, political opinion, nationality, social origin, social status, indigenous status, disability, age (over the age of majority), marital status, capacity to bear children, pregnancy, sexual orientation, genetic features, or other status of the individual unrelated to the individual’s ability to perform his/her job, unless the selectivity is specifically designed to promote equality in employment or to protect health. 




a.      Companies shall treat each worker with equality, respect, and dignity.  No worker shall be subject to direct or indirect physical, sexual, racial, psychological, verbal, or any other discriminatory form of harassment or abuse as defined above.  No worker shall be subject to intimidation or degrading treatment; or be disciplined without fair procedures. 


b.     All policies of companies, including, but not limited to those relating to recruitment, hiring, discharge, pay, promotion, and training shall be non-discriminatory as defined above.  Companies shall establish a work environment in which it is clear that such discrimination will not be tolerated. 


c.      In view of the prevalence of sex discrimination particular attention should be devoted to the consequences of company activities that may affect the rights of women.


d.     Companies shall treat other stakeholders, such as indigenous peoples and communities, with equality, respect, and dignity.


C.        Right to security of persons


4.      Companies shall not engage in nor benefit from war crimes, crimes against humanity, genocide, torture, forced disappearance, hostage-taking, abuses in internal armed conflict, and other international crimes against the human person.




a.      Companies, which supply military, security, or police products/services, shall take stringent steps to prevent those products and services from being used to commit human rights or humanitarian law violations.


b.     Companies shall not produce or sell weapons that have been declared illegal under international law.  Companies shall not engage in trade that is known to lead to serious human rights abuses.


5.      Security arrangements for companies shall observe the law and professional standards of the country in which they operate in so far as those laws do not conflict with international human rights standards.




a.      Companies shall observe emerging best practices developed by the industry, civil society, and governments; and international human rights standards, particularly the UN Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms and the UN Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officers.


b.     Company security arrangements shall be used only for preventive or defensive services and they shall not be used for activities that are exclusively the responsibility of the state military or law enforcement services.  Security personnel shall only use force when strictly necessary and only to an extent proportional to the threat.


c.      Security personnel shall not violate the rights of individuals while exercising the rights to freedom of association and peaceful assembly, to engage in collective bargaining, or to enjoy other related rights of workers as recognized by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work.


d.     Companies shall establish policies against hiring individuals or working with units of state security forces or contract security firms that are known to have been responsible for human rights abuses.  To the extent of their resources and capabilities, companies shall ensure that guards in their employ are adequately trained, guided by, and particularly trained concerning relevant international limitations and caution with regard, for example, to the use of force and firearms as well for the handling of demonstrations.  If a company contracts with a state security force or a private security firm, the relevant provisions of these Guidelines (4 and 5 as well as the related commentary) shall be incorporated in the contract.


e.      Companies using public security forces shall consult regularly with host governments concerning the impact of their security arrangements on local communities, communicate their policies regarding ethical conduct and human rights, and express their desire that security be provided in a manner consistent with those policies by personnel with adequate and effective training.


D.        Rights of Workers


6.      Companies shall not use forced or slave labour.




a.      Companies shall not use slave, forced, indentured, or compulsory labour, as forbidden in ILO Conventions 29 and 105 (Forced and Bonded Labour).  Workers shall be recruited, paid, and entitled to other working conditions so as to avoid debt bondage or other contemporary forms of slavery. 


b.     Workers shall have the option to leave employment and the employer must facilitate such departure by providing all the necessary documentation and facilitation.


7.      Companies shall not use child labour and shall contribute to its abolition.




a.      Child labour is defined as the employment of any person in regular work duties before the completion of compulsory schooling or the employment of any child below the age of 15 years, which employment is harmful to their health or development, will prevent the child from attending school or performing school-related responsibilities, or otherwise is not consistent with ILO Convention 138 and Recommendation 146 (Minimum Age), ILO Convention 182 and Recommendation 190 (Worst Forms of Child Labour), and the Convention on the Rights of the Child.


b.     Companies using child labour must create and implement a plan to eliminate child labour.  Such a plan should assess what will happen to the children who are no longer employed in the company and include measures such as withdrawing children from the workplace in tandem with the provision of suitable opportunities for schooling, vocational training, and other social protection for the children and their families, for example, by employing the parents or older siblings.


8.      Companies shall provide a safe and healthy working environment.    




a.      Companies shall provide a safe and healthy working environment in accordance with the national requirements of the countries in which they are located and with international standards such as those found in ILO Conventions 81 (Labour Inspection Convention), 115 (Radiation Protection Convention), 119 (Guarding of Machinery Convention), 127 (Maximum Weight Convention), 129 (Agriculture Labour Inspection Convention), 135 (Workers’ Representatives Convention), 136 (Benzene Convention), 148 (Working Environment (Air Pollution, Noise and Vibration) Convention), 155 (Occupational Safety and Health Convention), 161 (Occupational Health Services Convention), 162 (Asbestos Convention), 167 (Safety in Construction Convention), 170 (Chemicals Convention), 174 (Prevention of Major Industrial Accidents Convention), 176 (Safety and Health in Mines Convention), and other relevant recommendations.  Such a safe and healthy work environment shall aid in the prevention of accidents and injuries arising out of, linked with, or occurring within the course of work.


b.     Companies shall make information about the health and safety standards relevant to their local activities available to their workers in the local language and in both written and oral form.  The information shall also include arrangements for training in safe working practices and details on the effects of all substances used in manufacturing processes.  In particular, companies shall make known any special hazards that tasks or conditions of work involve and the related measures available to protect the workers.  


c.      Companies shall examine the causes of safety and health hazards in their industry and work to implement improvements and solutions to those conditions, including the provision of safe equipment at least consistent with industry standards.  Companies shall investigate work-related accidents and keep records of all such incidents stating their cause and remedial measures taken to prevent similar accidents. 


d.     Companies shall not require any worker to work more than 48 hours per week.  Voluntary overtime for workers should not exceed 12 hours per week and should not be demanded on a regular basis.  Compensation for such overtime should be at a rate higher than the normal rate.  Each worker should be given at least one day off in every seven-day period.  These protections may be adjusted to meet the different needs of management personnel and professionals who have clearly indicated their personal desire to work more hours.


9.      Companies shall compensate workers with remuneration that ensures a lifestyle worthy of human existence for workers and their families in the context of their circumstances.




a.      Companies shall compensate workers for the work completed with just, favourable, and periodically regular remuneration ordinarily in legal tender at a level at least comparable to that received by similar workers (the prevailing industry wage) and adequate to ensure a lifestyle worthy of human existence for workers and their families in the context of their circumstances, as well as consistent with ILO Convention 100 (Equal Remuneration for Men and Women Workers for Work of Equal Value) and ILO Convention 111 (Discrimination in Respect of Employment and Occupation).


b.     Companies shall not deduct from a worker’s wages already earned for disciplinary measures; nor shall any deduction from wages not provided in national law be permitted without the express permission of the worker concerned.


c.      Companies shall keep detailed written records on each worker’s hours of work and wages paid. Workers shall be informed periodically as to the wages, salaries, and additional emoluments to which they are entitled.  At the time workers are paid for their work, they shall receive an accounting in writing of hours worked and wages paid for the pay period.


10.    Companies shall ensure that all workers shall have the right to form and join organizations of their choosing, including trade unions, for the protection of their employment interests and for collective bargaining.




a.      Companies shall recognize the right of workers to establish and join organizations of their own choosing without previous authorization and without distinction whatsoever, subject only to restrictions consistent with ILO Convention 87 (Freedom of Association) and other international human rights law.  Companies shall also recognize the rights of workers’ organizations to draw up their constitutions and rules, to elect their representatives, to organize their administration and activities, and to formulate their programmes.  Companies shall further refrain from any interference that restricts these rights or impedes their lawful exercise.


b.     Companies shall recognize workers’ organizations for the purpose of collective bargaining consistent with ILO Convention 98 (Right to Collective Bargaining).  Companies shall respect the right of workers to submit grievances, including grievances as to compliance with these Guidelines; to have those grievances examined by fair and impartial persons who have the authority to redress any abuses found, pursuant to the appropriate procedure; and to be protected from suffering prejudice for using those procedures.


c.      Companies shall enable representatives of their workers to conduct negotiations on their terms and conditions of employment with representatives of management who are authorized to make decisions about the issues under negotiation.  Companies shall further give workers and their representative access to information, facilities, and other resources, as consistent with ILO Convention 135 and Recommendation 129 (Workers’ Representatives Convention) that are relevant and necessary for their representatives to conduct negotiation effectively without unnecessary harm to legitimate employer interests.


d.     Companies shall abide by provisions in collective agreements that provide for the settlement of disputes arising over their interpretation and application and also by decisions of tribunals or other mechanisms empowered to make determinations on such matters.


e.      Companies shall take particular care to protect the rights of workers as to such procedures in countries that do not fully implement international standards regarding the freedom of association, the right to organize, and the right to bargain collectively. 


E.         Respect for National Sovereignty and Local Communities


11.    Companies shall recognize and respect the national laws; regulations; administrative practices; the rule of law; self-determination; values; development objectives; social, economic, and cultural policies; and authority of the countries in which the companies operate, in so far as they do not conflict with international human rights standards. 




a.      Companies, within the limits of their resources and capabilities, shall endeavour to encourage social progress and development by engaging in constructive business activities and expanding economic opportunities – particularly in developing countries and most importantly in the least developed countries.


b.     Companies shall respect the right to development in which all peoples are entitled to participate in, contribute to, and enjoy economic, social, cultural, and political development, in which all human rights and fundamental freedoms can be fully realized and in which sustainable development can be achieved so as to protect the rights of future generations.


c.   Companies shall respect the rights of local communities affected by their activities.  Companies shall particularly respect the rights of indigenous peoples and similar communities to own, develop, control, protect, and use their lands, other natural resources, and cultural and intellectual property.  Indigenous peoples and communities may not be deprived of their own means of subsistence.   Companies shall respect indigenous control, use, and occupancy of their lands and resources.  Companies should avoid endangering the health, environment, culture, and institutions of indigenous peoples and communities in the context of projects, including road building in or near indigenous peoples and communities.  Companies shall use particular care in situations in which indigenous lands, resources, or rights thereto have not been adequately demarcated or defined.


d.   Companies shall protect and enforce intellectual property rights in a manner that contributes to the promotion of technological innovation and to the transfer and dissemination of technology, to the mutual advantage of producers and users of technological knowledge in a manner conducive to social and economic welfare, and to a balance of rights and obligations.


12.    Companies shall not offer, promise, give, accept, or demand a bribe or other improper advantage, nor shall they be solicited or expected to give a bribe or other improper advantage to any government or government official. 




a.   Companies shall enhance the transparency of their activities in this regard; openly fight against bribery, extortion, and other forms of corruption; and cooperate with state authorities responsible for combating corruption.


13.     Companies shall respect the rights to health, adequate food, and adequate housing, and refrain from actions that obstruct the realization of those rights.  Companies shall also respect other economic, social, and cultural rights, such as the rights to primary education, rest and leisure, and participation in the cultural life of the community and refrain from actions that obstruct the realization of those rights.




a.      Companies shall observe standards that promote the availability, accessibility, acceptability, and quality of the right to health as identified in Article 12 of the Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and the General Comment on the right to the highest attainable standard of health.[1]


b.     Companies shall observe standards which promote the availability of food in a quantity and quality sufficient to satisfy the dietary needs of individuals, free from adverse substances, acceptable within a given culture, accessible in ways that are sustainable and do not interfere with the enjoyment of other human rights, and otherwise in accordance with Article 11 of the Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and the General Comment on the right to adequate food.[2]


c.      Companies shall further observe standards which protect the right to adequate housing and are otherwise in accordance with Article 11 of the Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and the General Comment on the right to adequate housing.[3]  Companies shall not forcibly evict individuals, families, and/or communities against their will from their homes and/or land which they occupy, without the provision of, and access to, appropriate forms of legal or other protection pursuant to international human rights law.


d.     Companies shall observe standards that protect other economic, social and cultural rights and are otherwise in accordance with the Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and the relevant General Comments.


e.      In making siting decisions – particularly as to larger tracts of land – and decisions to depart from a community, companies shall assess the foreseeable consequences of their activities as to displacing people from their habitats and shelter, upsetting food security, diminishing health care, and decreasing the availability of primary education.


14.     Companies shall respect other civil and political rights, such as freedom of movement; freedom of thought, conscience, and religion; and freedom of opinion and expression and refrain from actions, which obstruct the realization of those rights.




a.      Companies shall observe standards that protect civil and political rights and    are otherwise in accordance with the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the relevant General Comments.


F.         Obligations with regard to Consumer Protection


15.    Companies shall act in accordance with fair business, marketing, and advertising practices and should take all reasonable steps to ensure the safety and quality of the goods and services they provide.




a.      Companies shall adhere to relevant international standards so as to avoid variations in the quality of products that would have detrimental effects on consumers, especially in states lacking specific regulations on product quality. 


b.     Companies shall disclose to the public all appropriate information on the contents and possible hazardous effects of the products they produce through proper labeling, informative and accurate advertising, and other appropriate methods.  In particular, they shall warn if death or serious injury is probable from a defect, use, or misuse.


c.      Companies shall supply appropriate information to the relevant authorities regarding the characteristics of products or services that may cause injury to the health and safety of consumers, workers, or others as well as restrictions, warnings, and other regulatory measures imposed by several countries on the grounds of health and safety protection as to these products or services. 


G.   Obligations with regard to Environmental Protection


16.    Companies shall carry out their activities in accordance with national laws, regulations, administrative practices, and policies relating to the preservation of the environment of the countries in which they operate and with due regard to relevant international agreements, principles, objectives, and standards with regard to the environment as well as human rights; shall take due account of the need to protect the environment, public health, and safety; and shall generally conduct their activities in a manner contributing to the wider goal of sustainable development.




a.      Companies shall respect the right to a clean and healthy environment in light of the relationship between environment and human rights; concerns for inter-generational equity; and internationally recognized environmental standards, for example, with regard to air pollution, water pollution, land use, biodiversity, and hazardous wastes.


b.     Companies shall be responsible for the environmental and human health impact of all of their activities, including any products or services they introduce into commerce, including packaging, transportation, and by-products of the manufacturing process. 


c.      In decision-making processes, companies shall assess the impact of their activities on the environment and human health including impacts from siting decisions; natural resource extraction activities; the production and sale of products or services; and the generation, storage, transport, and disposal of hazardous and toxic substances. 


d.     Companies shall undertake environmental and social assessments on a periodic basis (preferably annually or biannually).  Assessments shall, interalia, address particularly the impact of proposed activities on women.  Companies shall distribute such reports in a timely manner and in a manner that is accessible to the United Nations Environmental Programme, the International Labour Organization, other interested international bodies, the national government hosting each company, the national government where the company maintains its principal office, and other affected groups.  The reports should be accessible to the general public. 


e.      Companies shall respect the prevention principle, for example, by preventing and/or mitigating deleterious impacts identified in any assessment.  Companies shall respect the precautionary principle, which indicates, for example, that when preliminary risk assessments indicate unacceptable effects on health or the environment, companies shall not use the lack of full scientific certainty as a reason to delay the introduction of cost-effective measures intended to prevent such effects.  Companies should consider any reactions from stakeholders in endeavouring to prevent environmental and human rights consequences.


f.       Upon the expiration of the useful life of their products or services, companies shall be responsible for collecting or arranging for the collection of the remains of the product or services for recycling, re-use, and/or environmentally acceptable disposal.


g.      Companies shall take appropriate measures in their activities to reduce the risk of accidents and damage to the environment by adopting best management practices and technologies.  In particular, companies shall use best management practices and appropriate technologies and enable their component entities to meet these environmental objectives through the sharing of technology, knowledge, and assistance, as well as through environmental management systems and sustainability reporting.  In addition, they shall educate and train workers to ensure their compliance with these objectives. 


H.        General Provisions of Implementation


17.    Each company shall adopt, disseminate, and implement its own code of conduct or shall take other adequate measures to afford at least the protections set forth in these Guidelines. 




a.      Each company shall disseminate its code of conduct or similar measures, as well as implementation procedures, and make them available to all relevant stakeholders.  The company code of conduct or similar measures shall be communicated in oral and written form in the language of workers, contractors, suppliers, customers, and other stakeholders of the company.  


b.     Once a company’s code of conduct or similar measures have been adopted and disseminated, companies shall – to the extent of their resources and capabilities – provide effective training for their managers as well as workers and their representatives in company practices relevant to the Guidelines.


c.      To the extent of its resources and capabilities, companies shall endeavour to assure that they only purchase products and services from contractors, subcontractors, suppliers, and licensees who follow these or substantially similar Guidelines.  Companies using suppliers that do not meet the Guidelines should take all necessary steps to reform or decrease these violations and if a supplier will not change, the company should cease doing business with the supplier.


d.     Each company shall take adequate measures to afford at least the protections set forth in these Guidelines and shall endeavour to improve continually its further implementation of these Guidelines.


e.      Companies shall inform in a timely manner everyone who may be affected by conditions caused by the company that might endanger health, safety, or the environment.


f.       Companies shall provide adequate reparation to those persons who have been adversely affected by restoring, replacing, or otherwise compensating for any damage done or property taken.


18.    Companies shall monitor and verify their compliance with these Guidelines in a manner that is independent, transparent, and includes input from relevant stakeholders.




a.      Companies shall provide legitimate and confidential avenues through which workers can file complaints with regard to such issues.  To the extent possible, companies shall make known to the complainant any actions taken as a result of the investigation.  Companies shall not discipline or take other action against workers or others who submit complaints or assert that any company has failed to comply with these Guidelines.


b.     Companies receiving claims of violations of this code shall make a record of each claim and obtain an independent investigation of the claim or call upon other proper authorities.  Companies shall actively monitor the status of investigations and press for their full resolution.


c.      Companies shall accept independent monitoring of their compliance with these Guidelines so long as the monitoring does not unduly interfere with work being performed.  Companies shall also endeavour to assure such monitoring of their suppliers to the extent possible.  In addition, companies shall comply with relevant governmental procedures, including, for example labour inspections.  


d.     Companies shall endeavor to ensure the monitoring process is transparent, for example, by making available to relevant stakeholders the workplaces observed, remediation efforts undertaken, and other results of monitoring.  Companies shall further ensure that any monitoring seeks to obtain and incorporate input from relevant stakeholders.


e.      Companies shall further enhance the transparency of their activities by disclosing timely, relevant, regular, and reliable information regarding their activities, structure, financial situation, and performance.  Companies shall also make known the location of their offices, subsidiaries, and factories, so as to facilitate measures to assure that the companies’ products and services are being produced under conditions that respect these Guidelines.


19.    Companies shall assess their major activities to determine their human rights   impact in light of these Guidelines. 




a.      Each company shall engage in an annual or other periodic self-assessment of its compliance with the Guidelines taking into account comments from stakeholders.   The results of the self-assessment shall be made available to stakeholders to the same extent as the company’s annual report. 


b.     Assessments revealing inadequate compliance with the Guidelines shall also include plans of action or methods of redress a company will pursue in order to fulfill the Guidelines. 


c.      Before a company pursues a major initiative or project, it shall, to the extent of its resources and capabilities, study the human rights impact of that project in light of these Guidelines.  The impact statement shall include a description of the action, its need, anticipated benefits, an analysis of any human rights impact related to the action, an analysis of reasonable alternatives to the action, and identification of ways to reduce any negative human rights consequences.  A company shall make available the results of that study to relevant stakeholders, and shall consider any reactions from stakeholders.


d.     Before entering into new business relationships, companies shall assess the compliance of these potential business partners with the standards set forth in these Guidelines.


20.    Nothing in the present Guidelines shall be interpreted as restricting or   adversely affecting human rights recognized in international law, national or state law, or the activities of companies.


I.          Definitions


21.    The term “company” includes any business enterprise, regardless of the international or domestic nature of its activities; the corporate, partnership, or other legal form used to establish the business entity; and the nature of the ownership of the entity, including any privately-owned or government-owned entity.


22.     The term “stakeholder” includes stockholders, other owners, workers, and their representatives, as well as any other individual or group that is affected by the activities of the company. 




a.   The term “stakeholder” should be interpreted functionally in light of the objectives of these Guidelines and include indirect stakeholders when their interests are or will be substantially affected by the activities of the company.  In addition to parties directly affected by the activities of companies, stakeholders can include parties which are indirectly affected by the activities of companies such as consumer groups, customers, governments, neighboring communities, NGOs, public and private lending institutions, suppliers, trade associations, and others.  


b.   The terms “contractor,” “subcontractor,” “supplier,” and “licensee” includes any natural or legal person who contracts with the company to accomplish the company’s activities.


c.   The phrases “internationally recognized human rights” and “international human rights” include economic, social, and cultural rights; and civil and political rights as guaranteed by the International Bill of Human Rights[4] and the other human rights treaties, as well as rights guaranteed by international humanitarian law, international refugee law, international labour law, and other relevant instruments promulgated by the United Nations.

[1] Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, General Comment 14, The right to the highest attainable standard of health (Art. 12), U.N. Doc. E/C.12/2000/4 (2000).

[2] Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, General Comment 12,  Right to adequate food (Art. 11), U.N. Doc. E/C.12/1999/5 (1999).

[3] Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, General Comment 4, The right to adequate housing (Art. 11 (1) of the Covenant) (Sixth session, 1991), Compilation of General Comments and General Recommendations Adopted by Human Rights Treaty Bodies, U.N. Doc. HRI\GEN\1\Rev.1 at 53 (1994).

[4] The International Bill of Human Rights includes the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights; the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights; and the optional protocols to the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. 


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