The UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, endorsed by the UN Human Rights Council in 2011, operationalize the three pillars of the “Protect, Respect and Remedy” Framework. In accordance with the first pillar, States are obliged under international law to protect individuals against human rights violations by third parties, including corporations, through effective policies, legislation, regulation and adjudication. The second pillar addresses corporations and their responsibility to respect human rights and exercise due diligence, with the aim of avoiding human rights violations and ending abuses, which have already occurred. The responsibility to protect not only applies to the acts and omissions of the corporation, but also includes relationships with business partners in the value chain. The third pillar determines that States, as part of their duty to protect, must enable, through appropriate judicial, legislative and administrative means, that those affected have access to effective judicial and non-judicial remedies.
States are called to develop National Action Plans and to implement the Guiding Principles domestically. The German Federal Government launched this implementation process in November 2014. Until 2016, a National Action Plan will be developed in a dialogue with all sections of society. Within the research project, the implementation process and especially the development of the National Action Plan, will be critically accompanied and examined. The research team will, inter alia, seek to answer the question which concrete obligations arise from the Guiding Principles and to what extent their implementation requires national law reforms. In this context, the German implementation process will be compared with the implementation in other States.
The work of the Working Group on business and human rights, which was appointed by the UN Human Rights Council in 2011, is a further object of investigation. The research project will focus on analysing the question of how far the Working Group is fulfilling its mandate to promote the global dissemination and implementation of the Guiding Principles and to enhance access to remedies. It will further examine, whether the Working Group can on the one hand, display domestic and regional developments of legal provisions and strategies internationally and on the other hand, influence those domestically.