On 24 February 2015 the United Nations Guiding Principles Reporting Framework (Reporting Framework) was launched. The Reporting Framework is the first comprehensive guidance for companies reporting on human rights issues in line with their responsibility to respect human rights, as set out in the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs). As noted in the accompanying Investor Statement, (showing the support of 67 investors, representing $3.91 trillion assets under management worldwide) in addition to ethical considerations, "companies that do not proactively assess and manage human rights face potential legal, reputational and other risks with financial implications."

The Reporting Framework was developed through the Human Rights Reporting and Assurance Frameworks Initiative (RAFI), which is a collaboration of Shift, the leading centre of expertise on the UNGPs, and international accountancy firm Mazars following a global consultation process involving 200 companies. 

The Reporting Framework

The Reporting Framework provides practical guidance to help businesses report on human rights issues in line with their responsibility to respect human rights and in accordance with a growing number of regulatory requirements and other requirements. It does so by assisting a company to address a concise set of questions designed to assist businesses to know and show that they respect human rights in practice. This should ideally be included in a broader annual report, or a standalone sustainability or human rights report.  

The Reporting Framework is divided into three parts. Part A focuses on the company’s commitment to, and governance of, human rights risk management.  Part B helps narrow down the areas of reporting to those human rights issues that are salient for the reporting company within its activities and business relationships.  From this, Part C turns the attention to the effective management of each of the human rights issues on which the company is reporting. The questions are structured so that any type of company is able to respond, including small companies and those at a relatively early stage in the process. Substantive responses should be provided, according to the guidance.

The Reporting Framework also attempts to provide cross-references to various reporting frameworks so that users can easily see where information that they are providing for one purpose could be used elsewhere (for example, the UN Global Compact Advanced COP Self-Assessment and the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights Reporting Guidelines).

The Reporting Framework has already been adopted by Unilever, Ericsson, H&M, Nestlé and Newmont and a period of broader piloting of the Reporting Framework will now follow throughout 2015.

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Click here for further background information on the UNGPs.