UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official profile] addressed the growing issue of global business' role in gross human rights abuses in a statement [text] on Tuesday. In addressing the Annual Forum on Business and Human Rights, Pillay detailed the importance of taking steps to implement the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights [text, PDF]. Pillay specifically addressed the role governments play in the process:
Governments must step up to close the governance gaps that have played such a large part in both facilitating and sustaining the current economic crisis, and business must cooperate with government efforts in this regard. Implementation of the Guiding Principles will be a big step in the right direction. ... The Guiding Principles recognize that responsible governance requires the adoption of adequate regulatory and policy frameworks to prevent and remedy business related human rights abuses. There needs to be a recognition also in the proceedings at this Forum that enhancing legal standards in relevant areas, be it at the national, regional or international level, may be necessary to ensure the full and effective implementation of the Guiding Principles. There is a particularly pressing case for such legal developments when it comes to business involvement in gross human rights abuse.Pillay also emphasized that markets have a role to play in protecting human rights.
Business' effect on human rights is a growing concern in the international community. Last month a UN independent rights experts released a report detailing groups whose human rights are harmed [JURIST report] by transnational business activities. In July a UN rights body expressed concern [JURIST report] that the Rio+20 did not address businesses respecting human rights.