UN Guiding Principles Assurance Guidance

On this page, you can find guidance about the assurance of companies’ human rights performance and reporting. This subject matter guidance serves two purposes: one, to help internal auditors assure companies’ human rights performance, and two, to support external assurance providers’ assurance of companies’ human rights reporting.

“As companies improve their processes to reduce human rights risks and impacts, so they need ways to assure themselves that these processes are having the intended effects. And as they improve the quality of their disclosure about these efforts, they need ways of providing assurance to investors and other stakeholders that this information fairly reflects their practices. The present guidance meets these needs.”

– Professor John Ruggie, Former Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Business and Human Rights

Today, any company that wishes to demonstrate either its own sustainability or its contribution to sustainable development must show how it is driving respect for human rights across its operations and value chains. Independent assurance has a vital role to play in enhancing the credibility of how the company speaks about its risks and performance on human rights.

This guidance is therefore designed to help expert practitioners ensure that their work plays a valuable role in advancing the protection of workers, communities and other groups affected by business activities – thereby protecting and creating value for the business in the medium to long term.

What guidance is available?

  • We offer the narrative guidance document and its accompanying aide memoires for download below.
  • In addition, we provide assurance indicators as a practical tool for experts. There are three ways to view those indicators: download the “assurance indicators” PDF below; download the “assurance indicators” Microsoft Excel file below; view the assurance indicators alongside the UNGP Reporting Framework implementation guidance by navigating through the Reporting Framework questions using the sidebar to the left.


UNGP Assurance Guidance
Aide memoire internal auditors
Aide memoire external assurers
Assurance indicators PDF
Assurance indicators Excel

The UNGP Reporting Framework is a short series of smart questions to which any company should have answers, both to know whether it is doing business with respect for human rights, and to show others the progress it is making. 

The Reporting Framework comes with two kinds of supporting guidance: implementation guidance for companies that are reporting, and assurance guidance for internal auditors and external assurance providers. This page is the main resource page for the Assurance Guidance.

What is the objective of this guidance?

The UNGP Assurance Guidance is designed to:

  • provide tailored support to expert assurance practitioners who conduct internal audit in companies, provide external assessments of companies’ human rights performance, or assure companies’ human rights (among other non-financial) reporting
  • add value to the professional standards that govern many of these practitioners by setting out the specific procedural approaches and types of information and evidence that are important when it comes to the subject matter of human rights
  • address perceived risks and deficits in the current practice of many types of assurance in relation to the subject matter of human rights
  • bring value to the intended beneficiaries of these types of assurance: in the first place, companies themselves, and – in the case of the external assurance of companies’ reporting – their shareholders and other stakeholders as well
  • serve the ultimate purpose of helping to strengthen companies’ underlying human rights performance and, therefore, prevent and remedy negative impacts on the human rights of people affected by their operations and value chains

This guidance is based on extensive global consultations with a broad range of interested stakeholders, including companies, expert practitioners of internal audit and assurance, investors, governments and civil society organizations. Yet much remains to be learned from its application in practice and a continually deepening understanding of how to assess the effectiveness of companies’ efforts to address human rights risks and impacts. The authors look forward to working with practitioners applying the guidance to learn from their experience, which will inform future refinements of the content.

This guidance does not seek to replace existing standards or frameworks that govern the work of expert practitioners. Instead, this guidance complements existing standards by exploring, in more depth, their implications when it comes to the subject matter of human rights. Cross-references to the relevant provisions of existing standards and frameworks are indicated in footnotes in each section in the main guidance document.

The goal of this guidance is to advance effective human rights assurance as a means to help companies improve their human rights risk management systems and human rights reporting in line with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. To achieve this goal, this guidance aims to:

  • provide practical human rights subject matter guidance to expert practitioners, with a focus on the types of evidence to look for and the competencies required when reviewing the appropriateness and effectiveness of human rights-related policies, processes and practices
  • help expert practitioners deliver greater value to all stakeholders, be they internal or external to the company, through their expert conclusions

This guidance should, therefore, help expert practitioners ensure that their work plays a valuable role in advancing the protection of workers, communities and other groups affected by business activities, and adds value to a company’s business by helping it improve its management of human rights risks, strengthen its reputation, and enhance its resulting business opportunities, thereby protecting and creating value for the business in the medium to long term.

Scroll up to download the complete guidance document and its accompanying aide memoires and assurance indicators.