Edie Hofmeister

Daisuke Takahashi

Business Human Rights Committee

The objective of the Business Human Rights (BHR) Committee is to create awareness amongst lawyers in all fields of practice, of business and human rights, corporate sustainability, and more broadly ESG (environmental, social and governance, eg, conflict minerals and modern slavery transparency) principles.

About the Committee

Business and human rights issues are not new; but there has been a paradigm shift in the understanding of and approaches to the ways in which business may impact on the human rights of individuals and groups (both positively and negatively), since the endorsement in 2011 of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs). This global, authoritative standard provides guidance on governments' duty to protect against human rights harm and business' responsibility to respect human rights, as well as the importance of access to remedy. The UNGPs are increasingly reflected in new laws and regulations, and in business relationships.

These developments raise challenges and opportunities for lawyers, both as advisers to their clients and, in the case of law firms, as enterprises in their own right. The UNGPs' unique approach to due diligence and risk management bring a new perspective to all areas of legal practice, from mergers and acquisitions, to supply chain management, investment and finance, and more. They are relevant for all lawyers, whatever their area of specialisation, be it advisory, transactional, compliance, regulatory enforcement or dispute resolution.

Business and human rights is also a key component of strategies supporting corporate responsibility, ethical business, sustainability and good corporate governance more broadly. The Business Human Rights Committee aims to promote the development of legal skills required to advise clients and to support law firm management in these areas, and to facilitate education and dialogue among lawyers who practice in this emerging area of the law.

Forthcoming conferences and webinars View All Conferences


The climate crisis: act now to survive and thrive

To kickstart London Climate Action week, the Net Zero Lawyers Alliance held a symposium highlighting the integral role of lawyers in achieving net zero and encouraging firms to act now. This article summarises the key messages.

Released on Jul 07, 2024

Lessons learned from the first filing year of Canada’s forced and child labour in supply chains legislation

Canada’s Fighting Against Forced Labour and Child Labour in Supply Chains Act (the ‘Act’) came into force on 1 January 2024. On 20 December 2023, only a few months ahead of the 31 May 2024 reporting deadline, the government published the first set of compliance guidelines which, among other things, introduced an online questionnaire to be completed as part of the reporting obligations under the Act. Now that the 31 May deadline has passed for subject companies to file their reports under the Act, the time is ripe for reflection.

Released on Jun 16, 2024

The IBA ESG conference and the evolving role of lawyers in sustainability due diligence

In February 2024, the IBA hosted an Environment, Social and Governance (ESG) conference, presented by the IBA North American Regional Forum and the IBA Energy, Environment, Natural Resources and Infrastructure Law Section, which took place in New York City. The conference featured a variety of cutting-edge panel discussions on ESG, including a panel session on ‘Due diligence and ESG – identifying new requirements and key risks for clients’.

Released on May 07, 2024

New global norms on responsible AI beyond the EU: the G7 Hiroshima Process international guiding principles for developing advanced AI systems and its application in Japan

Through the rapid development of advanced AI systems, such as generative AI, however, the need for ensuring responsible AI has increased. In October 2023, the leaders of the Group of Seven (G7), chaired by Japan, agreed on the Hiroshima AI Process Comprehensive Policy Framework. The framework includes the adoption of the International Guiding Principles on AI and the International Code of Conduct for AI developers, based on the OECD’s report Towards a G7 Common Understanding on Generative AI.

Released on Jan 11, 2024

Projects and reports

IBA Guidance for Legal Professionals on UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (October 2014)

The International Bar Association (IBA) Business and Human Rights Working Group has published a draft guidance for bar associations and business lawyers on the implementation of the United Nations (UN) Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (‘Guiding Principles’) – the first guidance of its kind since the UN Human Rights Council endorsement of the Guiding Principles in 2011.

Subcommittees and other groups

The Business Human Rights Committee also coordinates the activities of the following subcommittees/working groups.

  • Business Human Rights Committee Advisory Board


Lawyers as Leaders

The UN Global Compact and the IBA, supported by Lexis Nexis, have produced three modules for a video training series entitled Lawyers as Leaders: The Essential Role of Legal Counsel in the Corporate Sustainability Agenda.

Watch the business and human rights module

Find out more and watch modules on labour, anti-corruption and the environment

BHR films on company-community dispute resolution

With financial support from the IBA as well as the Government of Norway, the CAO of the World Bank Group, and the Government of Germany, the BHR Initiative at the Harvard Kennedy School has produced three films about the mediated resolution of company-community disputes.

The films relate to disputes around a copper mine in Peru, an oil and gas operation in Nigeria, and a hydro-electric power project in the Philippines.

Watch the introductory film