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UN Global Compact Launches Business Guide Highlighting Rights of Indigenous Peoples

The UN Global Compact (UNGC) on Monday released a new guide aimed at helping businesses understand the rights of indigenous peoples, and recommends practical actions to respect and support these rights.

A Business Reference Guide to the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples was released as part of the second annual United Nations Forum on Business and Human Rights in Geneva. UNGC says the guide grew out of dialogue among a group of Global Compact LEAD companies and is the product of an 18-month collaborative process. As part of a public consultation period, thousands of stakeholders from around the world — including indigenous peoples, companies, business and industry associations, academia, international organizations, NGOs and other experts — were invited to provide input to the development of the Guide.

The new Guide follows the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which was adopted by the UN General Assembly in 2007. The Declaration elaborates internationally recognized human rights of indigenous peoples, both individually and collectively.

Since the greater business community endorsed the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights in 2011, businesses have increasingly acknowledged the relevance of respecting and supporting internationally recognized human rights, UNGC says.

To help highlight the steps businesses are already taking to respect and support indigenous peoples’ rights internationally, UNGC also released a Practical Supplement to the Guide with examples of best business practices.

“We hope that this Business Guide will help to fill a critical void: namely, to assist businesses around the world to better understand indigenous peoples' rights, and how to respect and support those rights,” said Ursula Wynhoven, General Counsel at the UN Global Compact.

UNGC has been busy churning out guides for sustainable business — last month it released a guide for companies to manage and report on their direct and indirect influences on climate policy. The guide sets baseline expectations for firms to provide proactive, constructive input for governments to create effective climate policies, and helps companies to connect the dots between sustainability commitments, such as efficiency improvements and emissions reductions across their value chains, with their corporate policy positions.

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