Conference: The Implementation of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights in Spain (Sevilla, 4-6 November 2013)

The University of  Sevilla will host on 4-6 November an international conference on the responsibility of transnational corporations with regard to human rights, focusing on the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights: “The Implementation of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights in Spain”. Here’s an excerpt from the conference’s website:

Recent years have witnessed the cristallysation of the social expectation that business enterprises, and transnational corporations in particular, have a responsibility to respect the human rights of the people and communities that may be adversely affected by their activities.

The unanimous endorsement of the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights by the UN Human Rights Council has helped clarifying the scope of  corporate responsibility to respect human rights, in interaction with the state’s duty to protect those rights. The conceptual framework “Protect, Respect and Remedy” has contributed to a rapid development of policy and regulatory standards worldwide, as evidenced by the OECD revised guidelines on multinational enterprises, the review of IFC’s social and sustainability framework, or ISO 26000 (Social Responsibility), among others.

The UN Guiding Principles are not a point of arrival, but a starting point for future developments. Implementation of the new UN business and human rights framework simultaneously requires the review of existing State regulatory frameworks; the establishment or improvement of the corporate human rights policies and due diligence mechanisms; and the opening of new avenues of dialogue and responsibility between duty-bearers, rights-holders and other stakeholders. In the development of this complex program, there is an urgent need for academic reflection and political innovation.

The expansion of Spanish foreign direct investment in recent decades and the growing presence of Spanish transnational corporations in various countries have given raise to growing concern and pressure from civil society concerning the human rights impacts of their operations. Allegations of human rights violations have been particularly significant in relation to extractive industries and renewable energy projects in Latin America, including in relation to the rights of indigenous peoples. However, despite an important number of CSR initiatives in the past, the business and human rights agenda in Spain remains yet to be explored. The ongoing elaboration of the Spanish National Plan on business and human rights adds timeliness for this exploration.

The following is a synopsis of the main sections of the very rich programme of the conference (the detailed content of each panel, including the full list of speakers and paper presentations, is available on the conference’s website and as a .pdf file):

Monday 4 NovemberThe UN Guiding Principles of Business and Human Rights: Prospects and Challenges

Keynote Address: “Assessing the UN Framework for Business and Human Rughts. An International Human Rights Perspective” (Prof. James Anaya, Univ. of Arizona and United Nations Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples)

  • Panel 1: “Implementing Pillar I under UN and EU Law: The State Duty to Protect Human Rights”;
  • Panel 2: “Implementing Pillar II Business Responsibility to Respect Human Rights”;
  • Panel 3: “Implementing Pillar III. The Obligation to Remedy: Judicial and Non-Judicial Mechanisms”.

– – –

Tuesday 5 November Spain and the Implementation of the UN Guiding Principles

“Spain and the implementation of the Guiding Principles: The drafting and content of the National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights” (Ms. Cristina Fraile, Director of the Human Rights Office, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of Spain)

  • Panel 4: “The implementation of Spain’s obligations in the area of business and human rights”;
  • Panel 5: “The Implementation of the Responsibility to Respect by Spanish Companies”;
  • Panel 6: “Remedies for Alleged Human Rights Violations by Spanish Companies”.

– – –

Wednesday 6 NovemberBusiness, Human Rights, and Vulnerable Groups

  • Panel 7: “Business Enterprises and the Rights of Vulnerable Persons and Groups”;
  • Panel 8: “Business Enterprises and Human Rights in Conflict Situations”.

(Many thanks to Prof. Fabrizio Marrella, Univ. of Venice, for the tip-off)

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