UN Guiding Principles Reporting Framework

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.

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“This Reporting Framework puts the corporate responsibility to respect human rights into everyday language: a set of smart, straightforward questions to which any company needs to have answers – inside and outside its own walls.”
– Professor John Ruggie, Former Special Representativeof the UN Secretary-General for Business and Human Rights

A. The UN Guiding Principles Reporting Framework

The Reporting Framework is comprised of 31 ‘smart’ questions that enable companies to report meaningfully on their human rights performance, regardless of size or how far they have progressed in implementing their responsibility to respect human rights.

The Reporting Framework is divided into three parts:

Part A has two overarching questions, each with one or more supporting questions, which focus on the company’s commitment to and governance of human rights risk management.

Part B provides a filter point for the reporting company to narrow the range of human rights issues on which it will focus the remainder of its reporting under Part C. The focus is on those human rights issues that are salient within its activities and business relationships.

Part C has six overarching questions, each with one or more supporting questions, which focus on the effective management of each of the salient human rights issues on which the company is reporting.

The overarching questions in Parts A and C focus on general, relevant information about the company’s efforts to meet its responsibility to respect human rights. They are designed to enable responses from any company, including small companies and those at a relatively early stage in the process.

Responding to the eight overarching questions, in addition to the information requirements under Part B, is the basic threshold for using the UN Guiding Principles Reporting Framework.

The supporting questions highlight more substantial and detailed information that would improve the quality of the reporting company’s response to the overarching question. Each company can assess how many of these supporting questions it can answer, and to what extent. Companies should be able, over time, to address these questions more fully and deeply, thereby providing more robust reporting overall. View this page to see how the overarching questions from the Reporting Framework compare to the key elements of the corporate responsibility to respect human rights.

The UN Guiding Principles Reporting Framework
click on the image to download the Reporting Framework without implementation guidance

The UN Guiding Principles Reporting Framework

B. Implementation guidance for the UN Guiding Principles Reporting Framework

The implementation guidance to this Reporting Framework is designed to help companies use the Framework. Using the navigation bar on the left, website users start with an overarching question from the Reporting Framework, which is grouped with its supporting questions on its dedicated page. Users can then choose to expand or collapse any part of any question by clicking on the arrows to the right of each field of each question.

For each overarching and supporting question, the implementation guidance sets out:

  • The objective: A statement of the question’s intent, to help the user understand what it seeks to achieve;
  • Supporting guidance: Additional guidance about how to go about answering the question;
  • Relevant information: Some examples of information that it could be particularly relevant to include in response to the question;
  • The Guiding Principles: Citations from relevant parts of the Guiding Principles;
  • Reference points in other initiatives: Cross-references to relevant provisions from broader reporting frameworks and industry- or issue- specific initiatives, so that users can quickly identify where information that they are already providing for other purposes may be relevant to answering questions in Parts A and C of the UN Guiding Principles Reporting Framework. They should not be seen as a substitute for the implementation guidance, which is the primary source for answering questions in this Framework. *In addition to the per-question cross-references provided in the implementation guidance, our cross-references online feature allows website users to select those initiatives that are relevant for their reporting, and obtain a table showing the relevant cross-references, either question by question or for multiple questions grouped together. 

The implementation guidance also explains how to address the informational requirements in Part B of the Reporting Framework, including the basic steps to identify the company’s salient human rights issues.

C. Sequencing responses to the Reporting Framework questions

In order to provide a coherent narrative, a reporting company may need to structure the information it provides differently from the sequence in which the questions appear in the Framework. This may be true whether the company is integrating responses within a broader annual, sustainability or integrated report, or producing a stand-alone human rights report.

Companies can use the Index of Answers to indicate to the reader where responses to specific questions from this Reporting Framework can be found.

D. Applying the Reporting Framework at different levels of the corporate entity

Large companies can apply the Reporting Framework at different levels of the corporate entity, but should ensure that their responses to the questions in Part A of the Framework reflect the role of the highest-level authority with governance responsibilities. For example, multinational companies might ask subsidiaries or business units to use the Reporting Framework to prepare their own reports, with the corporate group providing responses in relation to Part A for the group as a whole.

Where subsidiaries or business units are selected to prepare their own reports using this Framework, companies should base this selection on the geographies or areas of the business where salient human rights issues are particularly apparent, or where severe impacts occurred within the reporting period, or they should clearly explain any alternative basis for selection.