Human rights are the freedoms inherent to every human being and are outlined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Every human being is entitled to these rights, without discrimination, regardless of race, class, sex, nationality, ethnicity, or any other status. According to the United Nations Guiding Principles Reporting Framework, a company’s salient human rights issues are:
“those human rights that stand out because they are at risk of the most severe negative impact through the company’s activities or business relationships.”
Identifying a company’s salient human rights issues is the first step of human rights due diligence under the UN Guiding Principles (UNGP).
Due diligence includes knowing where to focus the company’s efforts and resources first, if it cannot address all impacts at once. It is not about ignoring less salient issues.
Companies’ processes to identify their salient human rights issues should focus on the most severe potential negative impacts on human rights.
A company may better understand its salient human rights issues by:
Further considerations for identifying salient human rights issues are set out in the implementation guidance to section B1 of the UNGP Reporting Framework.
There is strong convergence between the most severe human rights impacts and risk to business. It is important for companies to understand how to assess human rights risks occurring in their supply chains, including:
Additional guidance may be found in the Roadmap step Assess.