BHR and the tech sector: resource hub

25 Jun 2021

The UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs)—the globally accepted framework for enhancing standards and practice regarding business and human rights—recently marked its ten year anniversary.

At GPD, we often use this framework to promote business and human rights in the tech sector. To celebrate the UNGPs turning ten we’ve compiled a list of useful resources and links, from our own work and elsewhere.

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GPD resources

The Tech Sector and National Action Plans on Business and Human Rights

A guidance document jointly developed by GPD and the Danish Institute for Human Rights that aims to assist state actors and other stakeholders in the development of National Action Plans on Business and Human Rights (NAPs) in the specific context of the tech sector. 

Promoting Business and Human Rights in the Tech Sector: Webinar Series

A four-part webinar series with five modules aims to strengthen the capacity of civil society actors to understand and promote the business and human rights framework in the tech sector – with a focus on privacy and free expression.

Supporting Tech SMEs to Respect Human RIghts: Resource Hub

As part of our work to support tech companies respect human rights, GPD developed a three-part suite of resources specifically designed for small and medium-sized tech companies. 

What Options Do Governments Have to Protect Human Rights from Businesses?

This GPD article sets out the four categories of measures governments can take to protect human rights from business impacts and concluding thoughts and links to resources on effective implementation.

The Draft Binding Treaty on Business and Human Rights: An Analysis

GPD’s analysis of the 2018 Zero Draft of the Binding Treaty against a three part framework.  

The Case for and Against a Binding Treaty on Business and Human Rights

A blog post laying out GPD’s vision of what any Binding Treaty should include, conclusions around the process that lead to its development and whether civil society organisations working on digital rights should support it. 

National Action Plans: The Importance of Process

A blog post setting out the ideal four stage process of a NAP development and calling for all NAPs to be developed in an open, inclusive and transparent manner. 

Can National Action Plans Make Tech Companies Rights Respecting?

A blog post discussing the role that NAPs can play in enhancing respect for human rights in the private sector, and the key commitments and safeguards that successful NAPs should include. 

Can a Business be a Human Rights Defender?

In this podcast, GPD interviews Michael Samway, former Vice President and Deputy General Counsel for Yahoo! and current adjunct professor at Georgetown University.

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Other civil society

National Action Plans on Business and Human Rights

The Global NAPs website contains all of the countries that have published NAPs and groups them into thematic issue areas, such as the ICT & Electronics Sector and Data Protection & Privacy.

Danish Institute of Human Rights (DIHR)

The DIHR works on Business and Human Rights as a whole and has a specific focus on technology and human rights and impact assessments. With GPD, they produced a guidance document which provides information on the tech sector for those involved in developing a National Action Plan on business and human rights (NAP).

Global Network Initiative (GNI)

The Global Network Initiative is a multistakeholder platform whose members commit to implement the GNI Principles concerning freedom of expression and privacy, which provide direction and guidance to the ICT industry and its stakeholders in protecting and advancing the enjoyment of these human rights globally.

Ranking Digital Rights (RDR)

RDR’s Corporate Accountability Index evaluates 26 digital platforms and telecommunications companies on their disclosed policies and practices affecting users’ rights to freedom of expression and information and privacy. A 2020 report articulates the connection between surveillance-based business models and the health of democracy.

Business and Human Rights Resource Centre

The BHR Resource Centre works on Business and Human Rights as a whole and has a specific focus on technology and human rights, looking at issues such as artificial intelligence, automation, and the gig economy. Their Technology Companies Dashboards assess 40 technology companies against their behaviour on human rights.

Business and Digital Rights: Taking Stock of the UN Guiding Principles for Business and Human Rights in the ICT Sector

This issue paper from the Association for Progressive Communication (APC) takes stock of the implementation of the Guiding Principles in the ICT sector five years from their inception, using their three pillars to explore key issues, implementation gaps, and emerging best practices for technology companies. 

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Academic

Business and Human Rights Journal

Cambridge University Press’ Business and Human Rights Journal (BHRJ) provides an authoritative platform for scholarly debate on all issues concerning the intersection of business and human rights in an open, critical and interdisciplinary manner. While the BHRJ blog provides timely commentary. 

New York University’s Stern Center for Business and Human Rights

This academic center includes technology as one of its four focus areas since 2016. They are focused on the regulation of US-based social media companies and the spread of online harms, such as disinformation. 

Essex Business and Human Rights

A research group at the University of Essex working on projects with other universities, NGOs and inter-governmental organisations on training, policy analysis and assistance with litigation. 

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Global and regional policy forums 

B-Tech 

The B-Tech Project provides authoritative guidance and resources for implementing the UNGPs in the technology space. In 2019, UN Human Rights launched the project after consultations with civil society, business, States, and other experts. A series of Foundational Paper (such as the latest on Bridging Governance Gaps in the Age of Technology – Key Characteristics of the State Duty to Protect) aim to frame discussions and provide tools and recommendations for implementing the UNGPs in the tech sector. 

UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights (UNWG)

The Working Group on the issue of human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises was established by the Human Rights Council in 2011 and is composed of five independent experts, of balanced geographical representation. In July 2020, the UNWG launched a new global project, ‘Business and human rights: towards a decade of global implementation(also known as UNGPs 10+ and Next Decade BHR). The project is centred around the upcoming tenth anniversary of the UNGPs. 

UN Forum on Business and Human Rights

The UN Forum is the world’s largest annual gathering on business and human rights taking place over three days with more than 2,000 participants from government, business, community groups and civil society, law firms, investor organisations, UN bodies, national human rights institutions, trade unions, academia and the media. The tenth annual forum will take place from 29 November – 1 December 2021. 

UNDP Business and Human Rights Asia (B+HR Asia)

B+HR Asia promotes responsible business practices through regional partnerships in Asia and hold an annual forum on Business and Human Rights.