Chapter IV of the Guidelines, entitled "Human Rights", is dedicated to the duty of the enterprises to respect human rights always and in any case (regardless of the individual states’ commitment to protect these rights).
In particular, according to the Chapter enterprises should respect, at least, the human rights established in the International Bill of Human Rights, consisting of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the main instruments through which it has been codified: the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and in the principles concerning fundamental rights set out in the 1998 International Labour Organisation Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work.
Namely, according to Chapter IV enterprises should:
- Respect human rights, which means they should avoid infringing on the human rights of others and should address adverse human rights impacts with which they are involved.
- Within the context of their own activities, avoid causing or contributing to adverse human rights impacts and address such impacts when they occur.
- Seek ways to prevent or mitigate adverse human rights impacts that are directly linked to their business operations, products or services by a business relationship, even if they do not contribute to those impacts.
- Have a policy commitment to respect human rights.
- Carry out human rights due diligence as appropriate to their size, the nature and context of operations and the severity of the risks of adverse human rights impacts.
- Provide for or co-operate through legitimate processes in the remediation of adverse human rights impacts where they identify that they have caused or contributed to these impact.
The UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights
The inclusion of this Chapter IV in the OECD Guidelines dates back to 2011 and is the result of the international debate on the protection of human rights involving governments, businesses, associations and representatives of civil society, aware of having to identify new approaches in the management of entrepreneurial activities in areas with a high risk of negative impact and to develop effective and efficient procedures and mechanisms capable of translating the UN guidelines into concrete initiatives for the prevention and protection of victims. In 2011 the "UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights" were published, offering, for the first time, an internationally authoritative standard for states and enterprises to which to refer to in the risk management of the adverse effects on human rights linked to business activity. Chapter IV of the OECD Guidelines has many points related to this standard.
The National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights 2016-2021
In implementation of the "Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights", on December 15, 2016 the 2016-2021National Action Plan of Business and Human Rights was presented by the Italian Government (and can be consulted on the website of the Interministerial Committee for Human Rights). The Guiding Principles have remarked that without the adoption of coherent policies and a strong commitment by social and business actors, economic development can not lead to greater equity, widespread prosperity and stronger social justice . The Working Group created by the United Nations for the implementation of the Guiding Principles encourages all States to develop, implement and update a "National Action Plan for Business and Human Rights" as part of the responsibility of the State to disseminate and implement the Principles themselves.
The Italian NCP to contribute to the National Action Plan has appointed the Sant'Anna University to carry out a study on Business and human rights in Italy, to assess the compliance of the Italian regulatory and institutional framework with the new international standard (in particular, the first and the third pillar of the UN Guiding Principles). The document identifies the strengths and weaknesses, of the Italian framework and suggests the priorities to be addressed in the National Action Plan on Human Rights.