Exploring the role of disengagement in human rights due diligence

The two most authoritative international normative standards for responsible business conduct – the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs) and the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises – indicate that companies have a responsibility to avoid infringing on human rights.

They stipulate that companies should seek to prevent or mitigate adverse human rights impacts to which they contribute or are linked by a business relationship.

In order to meet this responsibility, companies should conduct human rights due diligence. In practice this means that companies should engage with business partners and use their leverage to prevent, mitigate and remediate adverse impacts.

However, if these efforts fail, companies are faced with the question whether, when and how to end the business relationship connecting them to the adverse impact. In these circumstances, the decision on whether or not to disengage from a problematic business relationship becomes a key consideration within the human rights due diligence process.

This adds a new degree of significance and complexity to the age-old question put so succinctly by The Clash: Should I stay or should I go?

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publication cover - Should I stay or should I go?
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