Recently there has been a proliferation of external guidance and guidelines for managing human rights issues. While these are useful tools to inform the management of potential risk, at best they may offer abstract concepts or normative aspirations of performance. As expressed by Professor Ruggie, "We're glad that you respect human rights and that you say so. But how do you know? How do you know that you respect human rights? So what we are doing is we've suggested what you need to have is an adequate and appropriate due diligence system."1

The expectations for companies are described below:

  • Should respect human rights in projects or operations.

  • Should seek to prevent or mitigate potential human rights issues that may be directly caused by the company's projects or operations, or seek to and influence partners and suppliers.

  • Should have in place policies and processes to manage potential human rights issues.

  • Commitment [to respect human rights] endorsed by senior leadership.

  • Conduct assessments to identify potential human rights issues in projects or operations; have processes to manage the issues; and have a means to track the response.

  • Communicate with stakeholders how issues are being addressed.

  • Grievance mechanism to address issues raised by the community.

In many respects, existing management systems have the components to address potential human rights issues, and due diligence is a long-standing practice among IPIECA members. Moreover, there has been a healthy exchange between IPIECA members and external experts to improve these processes.

The purpose of the paper is to describe how IPIECA, the global oil and gas industry association for environmental and social issues, has responded to the emergence of external guidelines in connection to implementing the due diligence process consistent with the United Nations Guiding Principles.

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