UNGP Reporting Framework: Generating Transformative Change

24 February 2015

After decades of discord and contestation among the different stakeholders, in June 2011, the UN Human Rights Council unanimously endorsed the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights that I developed over a six-year mandate as the Secretary-General’s Special Representative.

In the nearly four years since that time, I have been gratified to see so much being done by so many to embed the Guiding Principles into practice for the benefit of the people for whom this standard was written: those at risk of greatest harm from corporate activities.

Today, the UN Guiding Principles Reporting Framework marks the critical next step in generating truly transformative change.

At one level, the Reporting Framework is just what it says: a framework to help companies report on their human rights performance in line with the UN Guiding Principles. Yet it is also much more than that.

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. It offers companies a powerful tool to deepen internal conversations, identify gaps in performance and drive improvements in practice. It provides a basis to build constructive and meaningful conversations with their investors, civil society stakeholders and those groups directly affected by their operations.

The Reporting Framework further empowers all these stakeholders to call for essential information about how companies are tackling the human rights challenges they face. Reporting that glosses over these realities with easy anecdotes no longer meets the grade. Governments, stock exchanges and rating systems the world over, with an interest in advancing non-financial reporting, can now turn to this Framework to set clear expectations for corporate disclosure and to drive improved accountability in relation to human rights. Companies that respond should be recognized and rewarded.

This Reporting Framework represents an indispensable contribution to the collective effort to embed the UN Guiding Principles into practice. Many companies began using it, and investors and civil society supporting it, even before it was launched. This attests to its practicality and its value. I urge others to follow in their steps.