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Sustainable and responsible business

Business and human rights

Human rights are an increasingly important aspect of corporate social responsibility. The UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights [1 MB] define what companies and governments should do to avoid and address possible negative human rights impacts by business. The EU encourages and contributes to implementation of the UN Guiding Principles. Many EU Member States are developing national plans on business and human rights.

Human rights guides for enterprises in 3 business sectors

The European Commission has published practical human rights guidance for enterprises in 3 business sectors:

These guides, written by the Institute for Human Rights and Business (IHRB) and Shift, are the outcome of an intensive multistakeholder process, and are consistent with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. They take particular account of the experience of EU companies, but aim to be as globally applicable as possible. The guides are not intended to be legally binding. 

Resources on human rights for smaller businesses

  • Introductory guide to human rights for SMEs pdf - 2 MB [2 MB] български (bg) čeština (cs) dansk (da) Deutsch (de) eesti keel (et) ελληνικά (el) español (es) français (fr) hrvatski (hr) italiano (it) latviešu valoda (lv) lietuvių kalba (lt) magyar (hu) Nederlands (nl) polski (pl) português (pt) română (ro) slovenčina (sk) slovenščina (sl) suomi (fi) svenska (sv) Türkçe (tr) 中文 (zh) 日本語 (ja) Українська (uk) Click on the icon to the left for different language versions. This guide was written by a team from GLOBAL CSR and BBI.
  • Five short case studies pdf - 2 MB [2 MB]  of European small and medium-sized enterprises addressing human rights.
  • Choose your language (English, French, German, Italian, Polish and Spanish) by clicking at the bottom of the image on "Human rights (7 videos)"


See also

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