Week of 8 June 2020
Few company grievance mechanisms are fulfilling their envisaged role and rights holders continue to report significant problems with identifying, accessing and using such mechanisms in practice; companies should consider a number of steps to enhance remedy, including focusing on meaningful stakeholder engagement (according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights – OHCHR)
The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has published its report “Improving accountability and access to remedy for victims of business-related human rights abuse through non-State-based grievance mechanisms” and finds that:
- “[F]ew non-State-based grievance mechanisms are fulfilling their envisaged role. While there have been welcome attempts to design and operate various kinds of mechanisms, and while there have been valuable contributions by such mechanisms to accountability and remedy, rights holders continue to report significant problems with identifying, accessing and using such mechanisms in practice. The remedies that may be obtained from non-State-based grievance mechanisms are usually partial at best, in many cases due to limitations placed on the mechanism’s mandate, available resources, or both.”
- The contribution that these mechanisms “make to providing remedy is presently undermined by a lack of policy coherence on the part of States in their approaches to non-State-based grievance mechanisms.”
- A “lack of sensitivity and responsiveness of many mechanisms to their legal, regulatory, economic, social and cultural contexts, and a lack of cooperation between developers and operators of mechanisms in specific contexts and cases, results in unclear and incoherent processes, inefficiencies and other barriers for rights holders.”
The OHCHR calls on companies to place “much greater emphasis to the needs, expectations and perspectives of the people for whose use these mechanisms are intended, recognizing the different ways in which meaningful stakeholder engagement is fundamental to meeting each of the Guiding Principles’ effectiveness criteria for such mechanisms in practice.”
The OHCHR provides policy recommendations for developers and operators of grievance mechanisms, supported by a series of elements to demonstrate the different ways in which those objectives may be met in practice. These are based on the UN Guiding Principles’ effectiveness criteria, and the companion to OHCHR’s report further expands on these criteria.