Business and Human Rights Reporting and Assurance Frameworks Initiative (RAFI)

This page provides information from Shift on its project with Mazars to facilitate a multi-stakeholder process to develop public reporting and assurance frameworks based on the UN Guiding Principles. For further information on the UN Guiding Principles Reporting Framework, see www.UNGPreporting.org

  1. Recent updates
  2. Overview
  3. Project structure, timeline & process
  4. Consultations
  5. Background research
  6. Further resources
  7. Other news

__________________________________________________________________

1. Recent updates

Latest Eminent Persons Group report

A meeting of the Eminent Persons Group (EPG) of the Human Rights Reporting and Assurance Frameworks Initiative (RAFI) took place on 26 May 2016. The report, available here, provides a summary of the discussions.

UNGP Reporting Database Launch

new database gathers together for the first time companies' own reporting about how they are implementing the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. The UN Guiding Principles Reporting Database, developed by Shift, shows how companies' current disclosure responds to the key questions about their performance posed in the UN Guiding Principles Reporting Framework.

September – October 2015 RAFI Consultations

During the course of September and October 2015, the RAFI project team convened three multi-stakeholder expert consultations in London, New York and Jakarta to discuss the next stages of RAFI. The focus of these consultations was to discuss (i) lessons learned from companies using the UNGP Reporting Framework and (ii) proposed guidance for human rights assurance practitioners. The sessions took place under the Chatham House rule. This document summarizes the key discussion points made at all three consultations.

September 2015 CSO Jakarta Session

On September 28, 2015, Shift, Mazars and the Human Rights Resource Centre for ASEAN organized a half day session for civil society organizations on the UNGP Reporting Framework in Jakarta. This report describes key points made during the discussion.

Launch of Guiding Principles Reporting Framework

Following 18 months of global research and consultation, the United Nations Guiding Principles Reporting Framework is now available for companies worldwide. The Reporting Framework is the first comprehensive guidance for companies to report on how they respect human rights. The Reporting Framework is available on its new website, UNGPreporting.org

Companies from five different industry sectors are already early adopters of the UN Guiding Principles Reporting Framework, including Unilever — the first adopter — plus Ericsson, H&M, Nestlé and Newmont.

The Reporting Framework also has the formal support of 67 investors representing $3.91 trillion assets under management worldwide.

The Reporting Framework was developed over two years in a global, multistakeholder process led by Shift, the leading center of expertise on the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, and international accountancy firm Mazars.

_______________________________________________________________

2. Overview

Today, there are a growing number of regulatory and other requirements for companies to report on their human rights performance.  Many of these cite the UN Guiding Principles as a key reference point for reporting.  At the same time, more and more investors and other stakeholders are seeking transparency from companies on how they are implementing the UN Guiding Principles.  Furthermore, companies are increasingly taking their own initiative to explore how they can better demonstrate their alignment with the Guiding Principles.  The accelerating trend in requirements and requests for reporting on human rights is clear. Moreover, the beginnings of a similar dynamic can be seen with regard to auditing or assurance human rights reports.

As these dynamics develop, the question arises as to what good reporting on company alignment with the UN Guiding Principles – and good assurance of such reports – should involve.  RAFI aims to help answer this question.

The proposed reporting and assurance frameworks will be public, meaning that they will be non-proprietary and publicly available to all companies and assurance providers to use in their work.  They are intended to be relevant to, and viable for, all companies and auditors/assurance providers in any region, and to dovetail with existing reporting initiatives.

_______________________________________________________________

3. Project structure, timeline & process

Project team

The RAFI process is facilitated by Shift and Mazars in liaison with the Human Rights Resource Centre (the “project team”).  Shift is a non-profit centre for business and human rights practice focused on implementation of the UN Guiding Principles.  Mazars is a global provider of audit, accountancy, tax, legal and advisory services.  The Human Rights Resource Centre is a non-profit academic centre working on human rights issues in the Association of South East Asian Nations (“ASEAN”).

Note to stakeholders: Mazars Indonesia - with Mazars UK and US - was a founding member of the Reporting and Assurance Frameworks Initiative (RAFI), together with the non-profit business and human rights center, Shift.  In May 2014, the Indonesia firm became independent of Mazars and now operates under the name Moores Rowland.  Due to differences in its approach to business and human rights from those followed by RAFI, it will no longer participate in the initiative.

The project team will conduct research, liaise with all interested stakeholders, facilitate consultations, produce public reports from those consultations – including key issues and emerging ideas or proposals – and help advance the process of drafting the proposed frameworks.

Timeline

A 2014-2015 tentative calendar for RAFI, which will be further driven by the needs of the consultative process, can be found here: 2014-2015 RAFI Calendar.

An outline of the project’s next steps for the first half of 2014, including consultation plans, are available here: RAFI Feb 2014 Next Steps Summary

Eminent Persons Group

RAFI is overseen and steered by an Eminent Persons Group (“EPG”) which consists of leaders from a broad range of stakeholder backgrounds, globally and in ASEAN.  The EPG provides strategic oversight of the project’s process and substance and advice on its overall direction.  The members of the EPG are:

  1. Helen Brand, Chief Executive Officer of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants
  2. Rafendi Djamin, Indonesian Representative to the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights
  3. Paul Druckman, Chief Executive Officer of the International Integrated Reporting Committee
  4. Teresa Fogelberg, Deputy Chief Executive at the Global Reporting Initiative
  5. Filip Gregor, Lawyer at Frank Bold
  6. Peter Herbel, Former Senior Vice-President and General Counsel of Total
  7. Adam Kanzer, Managing Director and General Counsel of Domini Social Investments
  8. Colin Melvin, Chief Executive Officer of Hermes Equity Ownership Services Ltd.
  9. Roel Nieuwenkamp, Chair of the OECD Working Party on Responsible Business Conduct
  10. Christopher Ng, Regional Secretary of UNI Apro
  11. Gro Nystuen, Member of Ethical Council of The Government Pension Fund of Norway
  12. John Ruggie, Chair of Shift’s Board and former Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General on human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises
  13. Thomas Thomas, Chief Executive Officer of the ASEAN CSR Network

The reports from the EPG meetings are available here:

UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights

The UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights has expressed its firm support for RAFI and is engaging with this project as part of its mandate to promote implementation of the Guiding Principles and as part of its strategy to collaborate with stakeholders to provide further clarification on the application of the Guiding Principles.  See the UN Working Group’s statement for further information.

GRI

In December 2013, the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) and RAFI signed a Memorandum of Understanding to underline their mutual commitment to advancing meaningful corporate human rights reporting.  Both GRI and RAFI believe that robust human rights reporting is a key means of advancing the integration of respect for human rights into business practices, as called for by the UN Guiding Principles.  RAFI will seek, through an open and multi-stakeholder consultative process, to identify opportunities for the language of the reporting and assurance frameworks to dovetail to the greatest extent possible with the GRI Sustainability Reporting Guidelines.

_______________________________________________________________

4. Consultations

The project team has welcomed the active engagement of many stakeholder groups and commentators in the project and is committed to wide, deep, and collaborative consultation with stakeholders from all relevant backgrounds to shape the project going forward.

Key consultation take-aways

Key take-aways from January - July 2014 consultations

Key take-aways from August - December 2014 consultations

Key take-aways from June - July 2015 consultations

Key take-aways from September - October 2015 consultations

Fuller meeting and consultation reports as well as the documents discussed at the consultations are available below.

All views and comments, whether on these take-aways, the documents discussed at the consultations, or on the initiative more broadly, are welcomed and can be sent to the RAFI project team via info(at)ungpreporting.org.

2015 Consultations

The RAFI project team held two human rights assurance practitioner roundtables in June 2015 in London and New York, which in turn build on earlier feedback from global multi-stakeholder consultations held in 2013 and 2014. The objective of these human rights assurance expert roundtables was to bring Europe-based and US-based assurance experts together to discuss the next steps for assuring the reporting put together by companies following the UN Guiding Principles Reporting Framework.

The report of the London consultation is available here and the report of the New York consultation is available here. The key take-aways from these two consultations is available here. These have informed the project team’s approach to producing a first draft on human rights assurance, which were discussed during multi-stakeholder consultation in autumn 2015. 

During the course of September and October 2015, the RAFI project team convened three multi-stakeholder expert consultations in London, New York and Jakarta to discuss the next stages of RAFI. The focus of these consultations was to discuss (i) lessons learned from companies using the UNGP Reporting Framework and (ii) proposed guidance for human rights assurance practitioners. The sessions took place under the Chatham House rule. This document summarizes the key discussion points made at all three consultations.

2014 Consultations

In autumn 2014, the RAFI team conducted a series of in-depth consultations on the first draft of the UN Guiding Principles Reporting Framework in Jakarta, London and New York. Additional workshops on the Reporting Framework were held at the end of 2014 in Manila and Yangon. Reports on these consultations are now available here:

These consultations marked the first time participants discussed the Reporting Framework as a document, which is also available online here. The RAFI team is currently incorporating feedback from consultations and will launch the revised draft Guiding Principles Reporting Framework on 24 February at a launch event in London.

On 16 September 2014, Shift facilitated a half-day consultation as part of the 2014 African Regional Forum on Business and Human Rights held by the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.  The consultation was attended by 75 participants, primarily from civil society from across Africa, including from South Africa, Malawi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Cameroon, Morocco, Guinea and Ethiopia.  A few of the participants were from business, government and national human rights institutions.

The presentation for the consultation is available here. The consultation report is available here in English, and available here in French.

In March, JSL Stainless Limited hosted a consultation on RAFI in New Delhi, India, organized in collaboration with the Centre for Responsible Business, and the RAFI project team.  The meeting was attended by participants predominantly from the business sector, but with a number also from investment, government and civil society backgrounds.

From February to April 2014, the RAFI project team interviewed approx. 20 individuals from companies, investors and civil society organisations to discuss the types of questions and indicators that would elicit the kinds of information about a company’s human rights performance that it is meaningful for stakeholders to read, viable for companies to provide, and which support good human rights due diligence.

In April – May 2014, RAFI conducted its second round of expert consultations in London and New York to build on these interviews as well as the first round of expert consultations that took place in October – November 2013. These expert consultations involved a cross-section of representatives working in companies, non-governmental organizations, government, audit and assurance providers, investors, and academia. The primary focus of this expert consultation was the overall shape of, and approach to, the RAFI reporting framework, as well as some illustrative examples of the kinds of ‘smart questions’ that might form its content.

The background documents that were discussed at the second round of expert consultations are as follows:

Background documents (that are available here), were also circulated to the participants.

The RAFI project team welcomes all comments and feedback on these documents for consultation, which it will be revising in light of comments received.

Meeting reports from this second round of expert consultations are available here:

2013 Consultations

RAFI held a number of expert consultations in October – November 2013 in London, New York and Jakarta as well as CSO consultations in Jakarta and multi-stakeholder workshops in Bangkok and Medellin.  Through these meetings, the project team consulted with over 150 individuals from business, civil society, governments as well as legal, assurance, academic and other expert backgrounds.  The team has also held a wide range of bilateral consultations with individuals and organizations since June 2013.

In February, RAFI published the project team’s key take-aways from these consultations, which will guide the project’s direction in 2014.  They are available here: Take-aways from RAFI Consultations.

Full reports of the discussions that have taken place on RAFI can be found here:

_______________________________________________________________

5. Background research

During consultations, participants asked to what extent current company disclosure covers key elements of the UN Guiding Principles. Shift undertook research to offer an initial response to this question.  A short summary of findings was presented in the April/May 2014 consultations.  The fuller report is now available here.

During consultations, the RAFI project team noted the widely differing ways in which the terms ‘assurance’ and ‘audit’ are used by different stakeholders from different fields of practice. Adam Carrel from EY, a participant in the RAFI New York 2013 consultation, kindly undertook to provide a white paper that could offer some background regarding these distinctions, including some perspectives on the relative strengths and weaknesses of current audit and assurance models and lessons that RAFI might draw from them. The opinions expressed represent his perspectives and not necessarily those of EY.  The white paper is available here.

_______________________________________________________________

6. Further resources

Framing document:

The RAFI framing document of November 2013:

  • Recaps the rationale for the project;
  • Summarises the project’s vision and objectives;
  • Positions the project in the wider context of other initiatives and developments; and
  • Describes the processes envisaged for consultation and collaboration.

It is accessible here.

Discussion paper & stakeholder feedback:

In May 2013, the project team issued a discussion paper that recognized a range of challenges the project would have to tackle, with some ideas and questions on how they might be approached.  It invited comments from all stakeholders during a two-month period, which was then extended for a further two months in light of the levels of interest.

Over thirty-five sets of comments were submitted in response, from individuals, organizations, and associations that collectively represent many thousands of members.  The issues raised – both publicly and privately – provided the foundation for consultations going forward.  See below for the comments submitted.

The project team issued a document responding to issues raised, accessible here updated as of October 2013, which summarises the themes emerging from those comments and provides some preliminary responses.

  1. Accountability Counsel
  2. Alan Fine
  3. ASEAN Services Employees Trade Union Council (ASETUC)
  4. Asia Pulp & Paper (APP) Indonesia
  5. Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA)
  6. BDA
  7. Centre for Labour and Social Studies (CLASS), Nepal
  8. CICS, part of Ceram Group
  9. Claire White
  10. CSR + D (European Network for Corporate Social Responsibility and Disability)
  11. Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited
  12. DNV Business Assurance
  13. Hermes Equity Ownership Services
  14. Indonesian Center for Environmental Law
  15. Indah Amaritasari
  16. Institute for Human Rights and Business (IHRB)
  17. International Corporate Accountability Roundtable (ICAR)
  18. International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH)
  19. International Organisation of Employers  
  20. IPIECA
  21. International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC)
  22. Professor Adrian Henriques, Middlesex University Business School
  23. National Union of Bank Employees (NUBE)
  24. Nicholas Rowe
  25. RAISE Health Initiative for Workers, Companies, and Communities
  26. TIGERS Success Series
  27. TRaC Global
  28. UNI Global Union Asia Pacific Regional Organization (UNI Apro)

____________________________________________________________

7. Other news

"Unilever & RAFI launch collaboration to advance corporate reporting on human rights", 23 Sep 2014

"GRI and RAFI collaborate to advance guidance on effective corporate reporting of respect for human rights", Shift, 2 Dec 2013


 

Get RSS feed of these results

Related stories and components

Article
29 July 2016

Total publishes its 1st human rights briefing paper based on UN Guiding Principles Reporting Framework

Author: Total

Total has published its 1st Human Rights Briefing Paper based on the United Nations (UN) Guiding Principles Reporting Framework. The Briefing Paper outlines our Salient Issues and explains how we are addressing them. In addition, it demonstrates how...

Read more

Item
21 September 2015

Shift comments on Corporate Human Rights Benchmark

Author: Shift

Shift appreciates the opportunity to comment on the first draft of the proposed Corporate Human Rights Benchmark (CHRB). The CHRB initiative is timely. There is an important opportunity for a human rights benchmark to help advance companies' human...

Read more

Article
3 August 2015

6 multinational companies start to report on human rights using UN Guiding Principles Reporting Framework

Author: Naki Mendoza, Devex (USA)

“Will corporate human rights reports become the norm?”, 28 Jul 2015...

Read more

Story
30 June 2015

Unilever releases human rights report

See full story

Article
23 June 2015

ABN AMRO first financial institution to commit to using UN Guiding Principles Reporting Framework

Author: Shift

"First bank becomes early adopter of UN Guiding Principles Reporting Framework", 23 Jun 2015...

Read more

Article
20 April 2015

Shift & Mazars paper explores challenges for assurance sector in corporate human rights reporting

Author: Business and Human Rights Reporting and Assurance Frameworks Initiative (RAFI)

This Vision for Human Rights Assurance paper explores a range of challenges that the field of assurance currently faces with regard to human rights reporting, and which need to be addressed if it is to offer value to companies and reliability, trust...

Read more

Story
24 February 2015

First comprehensive guidance for companies on human rights reporting launches today

The Guiding Principles Reporting Framework is a groundbreaking tool to help companies report meaningfully on their human rights performance. Unilever has already been piloting the Framework during its development. Ericsson, H&M, Nestlé and Newmont...

See full story