United Nations Sub-Commission Norms on business & human rights: Explanatory materials

The "Norms on the Responsibilities of Transnational Corporations and Other Business Enterprises with Regard to Human Rights" were approved 13 August 2003 by the United Nations Sub- Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights.  The Norms were considered by the UN Commission on Human Rights in April 2004 -- the Commission "express[ed] its appreciation to the Sub-Commission for the work it has undertaken in preparing the draft norms" and said they contained "useful elements and ideas for consideration".  But it did not approve them, and said they had "no legal standing".  See the Commission decision in point 3 below.  The United Nations has taken no further actions on the Norms.  In July 2005, Kofi Annan appointed Professor John G. Ruggie to be Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General on business & human rights; Special Representative eventually drafted the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, which were endorsed by the UN Human Rights Council in 2011.  Click here for materials relating to the Special Representative, including his work drafting the Guiding Principles.

1. Full text: UN Sub-Commission Norms on business & human rights

2. Official Commentary on the Norms

3. [PDF] UN Commission's decision re Norms - 20 Apr 2004, decision 2004/116

4. Key commentaries about the Norms

5. Full collection of materials about the Norms

6. Submissions to 2004 UN stakeholder consultation on business & human rights, including the Norms