On 16 June 2011, the United Nations Human Rights Council unanimously endorsed the UN Guiding Principles for Business and Human Rights, making the framework the first corporate human rights responsibility initiative to be endorsed by the United Nations.
The UNGPs are based on three pillars which outline how states and businesses should implement the framework:
- Pillar I: The state duty to protect human rights;
- Pillar II: The corporate responsibility to respect human rights;
- Pillar III: Access to remedy for victims of business-related abuses.
Authored by Dr John Ruggie of Harvard University, on appointment by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, the three-pillar approach (or 'Ruggie Framework') received wide support from states, civil society organisations and the private sector.
Following their adoption, the EU began to promote the uptake of the implementation of the Guiding Principles among EU countries and enterprises.
The UNGPs were featured in the Commission's 2011 Communication on Corporate Social Responsibility, and have since been advanced across sectors, stakeholders and corporations.