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This month marks the 10th anniversary of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs). The UNGPs represent a watershed moment in establishing international consensus on the state responsibility to protect human rights, the corporate responsibility to respect human rights, and the right of victims of corporate abuse to access adequate remedy.

On this 10th anniversary, the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights (UN Working Group) is conducting a stocktaking, through its UNGPs 10+ Project, to reflect on progress and challenges and to make a push for scaled-up global implementation of the Guiding Principles over the next decade. In this blog, UN Working Group member Anita Ramasastry reflects on positive developments in aligning investment activities with the UNGPs, while noting some of the challenges in meaningfully assessing and prioritizing human rights risks.

Anita Ramasastry’s blog stands alongside two other contributions from Investor Alliance members Robeco and Heartland Initiative, which reflect on the 10th anniversary from the perspective of responsible investors and the challenges of investing in an increasing number of high-risk environments. These blogs can be found in the Perspectives section.

Below you’ll also find upcoming events and updates on priority work. We welcome your participation and invite you to reach out to us to share your ideas and insights, and look forward to a productive second half of the year.

Anita Dorett

Program Director
Investor Alliance for Human Rights

The Investor Alliance Welcomes Rebecca DeWinter-Schmitt: The Alliance is pleased to welcome new team member Rebecca DeWinter-Schmitt as its Associate Program Director. Rebecca is an expert in business and human rights whose two-decade career spans key consulting, advocacy, and academic roles to promote corporate respect for human rights. She co-founded a risk management consultancy specializing in helping organizations mitigate human rights risks associated with operating in complex environments, and until August 2019 directed the Human Rights in Business Program at American University Washington College of Law’s Center for Human Rights & Humanitarian Law. We are thrilled to have Rebecca as part of the Investor Alliance team.


Outreach to Broader Investment Community:  As part of our goal to build awareness and uptake of investors’ responsibility to respect human rights, the Investor Alliance recently collaborated with CFA Society Boston on an introductory session for its membership on the UNGPs.  Together with a panel consisting of Investor Alliance members Rosa van den Beemt of BMO and John Wilson of Calvert, we discussed how investors must systematically assess and address human rights risks by implementing human rights due diligence (HRDD) policies and procedures within their investment activities. Our panelists also shared their successes and challenges in incorporating HRDD into their investment processes.

The Investor Alliance also presented at RI Switzerland’s conference on “Acting on the ‘S’ in ESG and Human Rights”, where we discussed with a wide international investor audience the Investor Toolkit’s practical guidance on how investors can operationalize and embed the UNGP framework at both the institutional and investment levels. 


The Investor Alliance continues to collaborate with the Alliance for Corporate Transparency and has contributed to a series of articles on 2021 sustainability standards in the EU.

Investor Alliance staff participated in the initial two meetings of the Policy Forum to discuss the reform of the EU Non-Financial Reporting Directive led by Frank Bold (now called the Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive). The Investor Alliance team will be staying abreast of relevant EU regulatory developments and sharing relevant information and resources with our members.


Earlier this year, the Investor Alliance convened a group of 208 investors representing $5.81 trillion in assets under management in writing to 106 companies that scored 0 on all 5 human rights due diligence indicators in the 2020 Corporate Human Rights Benchmark Report, calling on them to improve their performance. Lead investors have been identified to engage with a number of those companies.

BlackRock: In late March, we had a fruitful discussion with the BlackRock Stewardship Team on its updated approach to engagement with companies on their human rights impacts. Recognizing human rights as an urgent business issue and a material business risk, BlackRock plans to address gaps in its response to human rights risks via improved board governance and oversight. 

ICT: The Investor Alliance coordinated a March 18 dialogue with Facebook on content moderation, and we will be providing recommendations to Facebook on investor expectations on their proposed annual human rights report.

On May 5, we launched the Investor Statement on Corporate Accountability for Digital Rights and plans to engage the 26 ICT companies evaluated by the 2020 Ranking Digital Rights Corporate Accountability Index on their respect of users’ rights to freedom of expression and privacy, beginning in July 2021. Please contact Anita if you are interested in participating.

We are also pleased to support Investor Alliance member Candriam’s new investor guidance and investor statement on facial recognition technology.

Myanmar: In June, the Investor Alliance coordinated and supported the Investor Statement on Human Rights and Business Activities in Myanmar led by members Storebrand Asset Management, Domini, and Heartland Initiative, which called on companies to undertake enhanced due diligence to identify and address human rights harms related to investments in Myanmar linked to the military and military-affiliated entities. It was supported by 77 investors with $3.9 trillion in AUM. Storebrand will be organizing a targeted collective investor engagement initiative, so stay tuned.

Uyghur Region: The Investor Alliance has convened 64 institutional investors ($6.5 trillion in AUM), in an ongoing cross-sectoral engagement on the human rights crisis in the XUAR region involving 45 companies, primarily in the apparel and tech sectors, setting out investors’ expectations for portfolio companies. We have had a 52% response rate from companies engaged and are planning to expand to the renewable energy/solar sector in the months ahead. Our next investor engagement call is on June 29th. If you are interested in getting involved, please contact Anita or complete this form.

A new blog authored by Investor Alliance Director Anita Dorett and Nicole Bohannon, Program Support Fellow, Un-Just Transition: How Fossil Fuels and Forced Labor Taint the Solar Energy Sector in Xinjiang, China, exposes renewable energy sector investment risks linked to human rights abuses and environmental harms in the Uyghur Region. The blog draws on a recent report from Sheffield Hallam University Helena Kennedy Centre, “In Broad Daylight,” which traces major solar supply chains from raw materials to panel production, indicating significant forced labor exposure and use of coal. We plan to include implicated solar energy companies as part of our investor engagements on the human rights crisis in the Uyghur Region. This blog was also featured in Responsible Investor.


KnowtheChain released its most recent 2020/2021 Apparel & Footwear Benchmark Report assessing the performance of the top 37 global apparel and footwear companies in addressing forced labor in their global supply chains. 

Shift, as part of its Valuing Respect project, has over the last three years been working on ways to help business leaders and stakeholders evaluate whether a company has embedded respect for human rights into its corporate culture. It has published 4 flagship tools: Business Model Red Flags, Leadership and Governance Indicators, the Quality of Relationships Collection and an Indicator Design Tool.

Analysing Modern Slavery Risks in Portfolio Companies. This FIDH report gives investors tools to identify and address human rights risks, including modern slavery, in their investment portfolios, from the perspective of an international human rights organization.

B Tech's Investor Briefing on Rights-Respecting Investment in Technology Companies provides institutional investors with holdings in digital technology companies with high-level analysis and guidance on how to apply the UNGPs framework to these investments. It clarifies the human rights responsibilities of investors, identifies trends in current investor practice and suggests resources for investors.
Throughout June, the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre and the Investor Alliance will be inviting partners, allies, and experts to reflect on the 10th anniversary of the UNGPs and how their adoption can help overcome human rights and business challenges.

Advancing Business Respect for Human Rights in Conflict-Affected Areas through the UNGPs. Sam Jones & Richard Stazinski, Founders of the Heartland Initiative, discuss the UNGPs’ call for enhanced human rights due diligence in conflict-affected and high-risk areas (CAHRA) and Heartland’s development of the ‘Rights Respecting Investment in CAHRA Methodology’.

The UN Guiding Principles at Ten: An Investor Perspective, Danielle Essink, Human Rights Specialist in Robeco’s Active Ownership Team, and a member of the Investor Alliance’s Advisory Council, shared her optimism on how investors can move forward to ensure that the next decade will be focused on global implementation of the Guiding Principles and creating better outcomes for people.



The Investor Alliance will hold its ICT strategy session on June 22, 2021 with members of the ICT Working Group, tech experts, and CSO allies to develop our approach and priorities on engagements on human rights issues in the sector over the next 12 to 18 months.
On June 29, 2021, Rebecca DeWinter-Schmitt will be participating in a webinar organized by the International Code of Conduct Association for private security service providers to mark ten years of the UNGPs and to launch the organization’s new Human Rights Impact Assessment Guidance. Please register here.



Technology and Human Rights. At RightsCon 2021 the Investor Alliance co-hosted two Community Lab sessions, “Organizing Investor Action on Human Rights and Technology: An Integrated Approach with Civil Society” and “Designing for Children’s Rights Online.”
Modern Slavery and Forced Labor. The Investor Alliance participated in a number of conferences focused on modern slavery risks in investments, including in the Uyghur Region. Anita Dorett spoke at the International Federation for Human Rights’ (FIDH) panel on “Assessing Modern Slavery Risks in Investment Portfolios” on the need for a collective, multi-stakeholder approach where forced labor and other human rights violations are government sanctioned. She moderated a panel "Human Rights: The Uyghurs and Supply Chain Risks" at the US SIF 2021 Annual Forum on the legal risks of continuing to do business connected to the Uyghur Region.

At the British Institute of International and Comparative Law (BIICL), the Bingham Centre for the Rule of Law, and the Alan Turing Institute event “What Data do Investors Need to Take Effective Action on Modern Slavery?”, Anita discussed the need for robust reporting and data on modern slavery.

On May 10, FIDH organized an online event, ESG and Human Rights: Assessing Modern Slavery Risks in Investors’ Portfolios, where it presented its new report on sustainable investment and modern slavery, and discussed with the rest of the panelists how investors can analyze modern slavery risks in their portfolios 

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