Business-related human rights abuse reported in the EU and available remedies

Growing global efforts to encourage responsible business conduct that respects human rights include steps to ensure access to effective remedies when breaches occur. In 2017, the European Commission asked the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) to collect evidence on such access in the EU Member States, with the ultimate goal of identifying the EU actions most needed in this field. FRA’s resulting research involved two phases: desk research on different incidents of abuse; and interview-based fieldwork on professionals’ views on the availability and effectiveness of different complaint avenues.

This focus paper presents preliminary findings from the first phase of the research, which will be elaborated further in 2020. It gives an overview of select examples of business-related human rights abuse identified through the desk research, referring to the types of industry sectors involved and complaints mechanisms used.

The findings presented are linked to FRA’s previous work in this area, in particular its 2017 Opinion on Improving access to remedy in the area of business and human rights at the EU level, which had been requested by the Council of the EU.3 The findings from the second phase of FRA’s research will be presented in 2020 in a separate report, which will be combined with results from the first phase.

The paper covers the following topics:

  1. Legal and policy context
  2. Incidents of business-related human rights abuse in EU Member States
  3. Summary and next steps