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Human Rights and Labour Working Group

In June 2006, the Global Compact Board established a Global Compact Human Rights Working Group (HRWG). In 2013, in light of growing recognition that labour rights are human rights, the Global Compact Board decided to merge the Labour Working Group and the Human Rights Working Group.


The main workstreams that the Human Rights and Labour Working Group is currently involved in are:

1. Tools & Resources

Since its inception, the Working Group has been active in developing and refining tools and other guidance materials for business on how to respect and support human rights. These and other resources can be accessed here. Current projects of the Working Group under this heading include:

  • Human Rights Reporting

2. Good Practices

The Human Rights and Labour Working Group seeks to identify and promote good business practices for the implementation of human rights. The three main channels that the Working Group has been engaged in to date are:

Good Practice Forum

In April 2008, the working group agreed to function as a forum for consideration of the endorsement of good business practices on human rights. Rather than highlighting specific practices of individual companies, good practice notes seek to identify general approaches that have been recognized by a number of companies and stakeholders as being good for business and good for human rights.

Background Materials

Completed Notes

Human Rights and Business Case Studies Series – Embedding Human Rights in Business Practice (EHRBP)

The Editorial Board composed of members of the Working Group oversees production the case studies series, Embedding Human Rights in Business Practice, co-published by the UN Global Compact Office and the Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights. Among other things, the Editorial Board is responsible for approving case study concepts and providing peer review. The fourth volume of the publication is currently in development.

Background Materials

Human Rights and Business Dilemmas Forum

The UN Global Compact and Maplecroft, with support from the GE Foundation, have launched a dilemma-focused, multi-stakeholder dilemmas forum aimed at identifying good practices from different stakeholders’ perspectives in response to a number of dilemmas businesses face on human rights.  Regular updates are provided to the working group whose members are also invited to be active participants in the dilemmas forum. It is hoped that the good practices identified as a result of this project will feed into the good practice forum referred to above.

Webinar series

The Global Compact, together with partners from the UN, business, civil society and academia, run a webinar series to which members of the Human Rights and Labour Working Group regularly contribute. The purpose of the series is to raise awareness of business and human rights, including labour, issues. Additionally the series highlights guidance material and good practice business approaches. The Global Compact Monthly Bulletin highlights upcoming webinars. Click here to access recordings of past webinars

3. Special Initiatives

Women's Empowerment Principles

The Working Group provides regular input to this joint initiative of the UN Global Compact and UN Women. More information.

Children’s Rights and Business Principles

The Working Group provides regular input to this joint initiative of the UN Global Compact, UNICEF and Save the Children. More information.

Global Business Initiative on Human Rights (GBI)

The Working Group provides support to the GBI and feedback and input to its secretariat at regularly scheduled Working Group meetings. The GBI, operated in collaboration with the UN Global Compact, concentrates on the practical implementation of human rights by business and maintains a culture of focused discussions between company members, drawing on human rights expertise. More information about GBI.

Sign Open Letter: Call on Academic Institutions to Incorporate Human Rights in Management Education

Demand for business and human rights education is growing worldwide,especially within companies seeking to meet their responsibility to respect human rights as detailed in the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. Management education is increasingly including business and human rights topics, and academic institutions are well positioned to prepare students to manage the human rights impacts of business.

The Global Compact and PRME have released an Open Letter calling on academic institutions to educate future managers and leaders on business and human rights. Endorsed by the Human Rights and Labour Working Group, the Open Letter intends to: 1) raise awareness of the need for business and human rights education; 2) prompt academic institutions worldwide to develop new courses and curricula; and 3) allow companies to declare the importance of business and human rights education within their own organizations. Access more Resources on Managing the Human Rights Impacts of Business.

Download letter: (English | Français | Español | Português | 中文 | 日本語). Individual companies and organizations are invited to confirm support of the Open Letter by sending an e-mail to humanrights@unglobalcompact.org. Signatories of the Open Letter will be listed on the Global Compact website, upon endorsement of a sufficient number of organizations. There is no deadline for signatures as the letter is intended to remain open for signature over time. View the current list of signatories.

For your reference read the discussion summary from Columbia University's Teaching Business and Human Rights Workshop reflecting the opportunities and challenges of teaching business and human rights at the university level (Columbia University/Columbia Law School, 2013). Download.

4. Local Network Support

An overarching objective of the Working Group is to support Local Networks and their efforts to promote respect and support of human rights in business context. Learn more.

UN Global Compact's Guidance for Local Networks on National Action Plans on Business and Human Rights

UN Global Compact's Submission to the UN Working Group on Elements of National Action Plans on Business and Human Rights


Ursula Wynhoven
UN Global Compact

Michelle Lau  Shubha Chandra
UN Global Compact  UN Global Compact
lau@unglobalcompact.org  chandra@unglobalcompact.org