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Africa-EU Seminar on Business and Human Rights

Tuesday, 16 September, 2014

Fostering the implementation of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights through regional cooperation

The UN guiding principles on business and human rights (UNGPs), adopted by the HRC in June 2011 recall existing obligations and provide the first globally agreed standard for preventing and addressing the risk of adverse impacts on human rights linked to business activity.

The EU is committed to their full implementation and has made substantial progress in this direction, including at legislative level. Furthermore, the European Commission issued sector-specific guidance notes, and EU Member States are working on National Action Plans. Four of them (NL, UK, IT and DK) have already formally adopted theirs.

As regards engagement with Third Countries, the EU increasingly discusses Business and Human Rights during the human rights dialogues with a number of countries and regional groups. In addition, we have a keen interest in discussing and promoting the UNGP and the EU implementation strategy with some key partners during dedicated seminars. This happened in 2013 with China, for example.

The EU and the AU hold a yearly bilateral dialogue on human rights. During the November 2013 EU-African Union Human Rights Dialogue, chaired by SR Lambrinidis on the EU side, the EU and the AU agreed to organise a joint EU-African Union event on Business and Human Rights in 2014.


Specific objectives of the seminar
The meeting's primary objectives are: to promote the implementation of the UN Guiding Principles (UNGPs) on Business and Human Rights in the two regions and foster peer learning opportunities as well as potential areas of future cooperation between the two institutions. The meeting will be closed to invitees only and take place in the margins of the official programme of the UN regional forum meeting, which will be more wide-ranging in nature.


This is mostly a technical seminar between EU and AU officials, and their member states. It will accommodate 40-50 participants from the AUC commission and organs, human rights officials from AU Member States, EEAS and European Commission officials, EU Member States officials. A limited representation from industry and civil society will also be invited to present their views on the role and/or importance of the UNGPs in Africa.


The AU-EU seminar will be held back-to-back with the UN African Regional Human Rights and Business Forum (16–18 Sept 2014, tbc) in Addis Ababa at the UN Headquarters.


  • AU will develop an African framework on Human Rights and Business
  • Possible EU assistance in developing National Action Plans on Human Rights and Business, upon request


For more information on the event click on any of the items below:


Joint statement

Final report

Article on the event