What do we do?

A unique trusted space.

The Business Network offers a unique space, where business, investors, and civil society, including human rights defenders (HRDs), regularly exchange information and lessons learned on the business and human rights agenda, with a special focus on safeguarding civic freedoms and HRDs. 

Business and civil society operate in and benefit from a “shared space” defined by common, fundamental elements. The rule of law and freedom of expression, association and assembly are essential to the realization of all human rights,to good governance and accountable institutions. Theseelements are also critical to stable, profitable and sustainable business environments in which companies thrive and economies prosper.

To achieve this, the coordinating organisations partner alongside civil society leaders and activists to identify and uplift areas where companies can engage to remedy human rights threats. The ability to provide a local, on the ground perspective to particular human rights issues is a specific ambition of the Network. The Business Network is grounded in the belief that in order to advance the global human rights agenda, we must take on a multi-stakeholder approach, fostering dialogue and understanding among civil society, the private sector and governments.

Dialogue between experts and civil society.

The Business Network organises approximately ten meetings throughout the year. All members are invited to attend each meeting. “Trends and Insights” meetings address issues and topics of common interest, such as mandatory human rights due diligence. “Deep Dives” focus on human rights issues in specific geographies where the “Shared Civic Space” is deteriorating, such as in Myanmar or Sudan. Our programme of activities for 2021 can be found here.

Pre-pandemic, several Network meetings took place each year in person, often in the margins of the UN General Assembly in New York, the UN Forum on Business and Human Rights in Geneva and in the margins of the World Economic Forum’s Davos Annual Meeting.

The Business Network fosters dialogue and understanding across economic sectors and collectives, taking a multi-stakeholder approach, with the participation of civil society, the private sector and governments.

Added Value of the Network

The Business Network’s unique and added value lies in our convening capacity to bring global leading companies and civil society to the table to focus on civic freedoms and the latest challenges and threats that human rights defenders face globally, shortening the distance between these two groups, and strengthening their common “Shared Civic Space”.   

The coordinating NGOs partner with civil society leaders and grassroots activists to identify and uplift areas where companies can engage to mitigate human rights risks and negative impacts. Our ability to provide a local, operational perspective to particular human rights issues is at the core of the Business Network. 

Members of the network appreciate such convening are not in lieu of actual consultative processes with civil society as part of companies’ human rights due diligence, and that they can in no way replace or undermine such processes, in particular free, prior & informed consent processes with indigenous peoples.

Membership Requirements

There are no ‘formal’ requirements or monetary obligations imposed on members of the Business Network. Instead, membership represents a commitment to participate and support the Vision and Mission of the Business Network in good faith and decidedly consider the invitations to take action.

Some of the members signalled their early commitment to this agenda through this public statement in support of civic freedoms, human rights defenders and the rule of law.