The UN Working Group on Human Rights and Transnational Corporations and Other Business Enterprises [official website] expressed its concern on Friday that Rio+20 [official website], the recent UN Conference on Sustainable Development, failed to expressly state that businesses must respect human rights. The Rio+20 conference, which took place June 20-22, concluded with an outcome document [statement, PDF] entitled "The Future We Want," which sets forth the "common vision" for sustainable development. The outcome statement listed many of the shared objectives of the nations participating but failed to specifically insist that private businesses must also serve to protect human rights. According to Puvan Selvanathan [UN News Centre report], head of the UN Working Group on Human Rights and Transnational Corporations and Other Business Enterprises: "Businesses will play a major role in developing the green economy and human rights safeguards are necessary to ensure that policies and business plans intended to advance environmental or development goals do not negatively impact people, communities and their livelihoods."
The Rio+20 conference, held in Rio, Brazil, twenty years after the first "Earth Summit" was held there, was viewed as an opportunity for nations to strengthen their commitments made at the first conference as well as address newer concerns to sustainable development. The conference did ellicit a number of voluntary commitments [official list] from many national governments as well as some NGOs but many felt that the conference's achievements failed to live up to expectations. Other UN bodies made similar requests that the Rio+20 conference sustainable development [JURIST reports].