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Frequently asked questions about the guiding principles on business and human rights

image of Frequently asked questions about the guiding principles on business and human rights
In June 2011, the United Nations Human Rights Council endorsed the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, establishing them as the global expected standard of conduct with regard to business impact on human rights. The Guiding Principles were developed based on six years of research and global multi-stakeholder consultations. These Frequently Asked Questions aim to support stakeholder uptake and understanding of the Guiding Principles. This publication is not intended as an operational guide, and does not change or add to the provisions of the Guiding Principles, but it provides additional background explanation to support a full understanding of their meaning and intent. This FAQ is a resource developed for a general audience and aims to be relevant for all stakeholders, including business, governments, civil society, investors, lawyers and others who are interested in business and human rights issues.

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The state duty to protect

The first pillar of the Guiding Principles addresses the State duty to protect. Its foundational principles affirm that, under existing international human rights law, States must protect against human rights abuses by private actors, including companies. This means States must prevent, investigate, punish and redress human rights abuses that take place in domestic business operations. They also stipulate that States should set clear expectations that companies domiciled in their territory and/or jurisdiction should respect human rights throughout their operations, that is, in every country and context in which they operate.

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