Human rights principles have been ingrained in national and international law for decades. For example, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), established in 1948, outlines UN Member States’ “promotion of universal respect for and observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms.” Similarly, the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGP) are a set of guidelines for States and companies to prevent, address and remedy human rights abuses committed in business operations.
The incorporation of human rights standards in policies can help grievance mechanisms deliver on their own mandates and respond to evolving regulatory demands. It also sends a clear message from the organisation to individuals potentially impacted by a project that they will not be left behind in the development process.
The 7th GRAM webinar, hosted by the Social and Environmental Compliance Unit (SECU) of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) on 5 October 2022, focused on how to meaningfully integrate human rights principles and requirements in safeguard policies and grievance mechanism processes.
Christine Reddell, Case & Policy Specialist at SECU, outlined why human rights in safeguards matter and how the UNDP has incorporated human rights principles and due diligence into its own standards. This was followed up by Mac Darrow and Margaret Wachenfeld of OHCHR sharing their recent benchmarking study that looked at the importance of being explicit about human rights, and the relevance of human rights in grievance redress processes. Lastly, the webinar concluded with Anne Perrault, Compliance Officer at SECU, who shared examples from Malawi and Kyrgyzstan on how the incorporation of human rights standards have benefited its investigations.