From Learning to Action: How can governments promote responsible business practices that respect human rights?

December 10, 2023

Business and Human Rights

UNDP Mongolia

The concept of 'responsible business' is often narrowly associated with the private sector, while 'business and human rights' may be perceived as more of a state responsibility. However, both business and the state play crucial yet complementary roles in protecting and upholding human rights.

In a landmark decision in 2011, the UN Human Rights Council unanimously endorsed the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs), a globally adopted framework for preventing, addressing, and remedying human rights abuses linked to business activities. 

Recognizing the state's duty to protect its citizens from human rights violations and the private sector's responsibility to respect human rights, the UNGPs advocate for effective laws and regulations to prevent and address human rights abuses linked with businesses.

The Government of Mongolia recognized this crucial interplay and adopted the National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights (NAP) in June 2023 which marked a significant milestone in Mongolia's commitment to fostering a business environment that respects human rights. 

The importance of NAP cannot be understated. This comprehensive plan outlines a series of measures aimed at preventing, addressing, and remediating human rights abuses linked to business activities. The NAP's implementation is crucial for ensuring that businesses operate responsibly and contribute to a more just and equitable society.

Ms. Ariunaa Tumurtogoo, UNDP's business and human rights analyst, introduces the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights at the Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Light Industry.

UNDP Mongolia

Generously supported by the European Union, UNDP in Mongolia's Business and Human Rights Asia programme has played a pivotal role in supporting the development of NAP by providing critical technical assistance in conducting the National Baseline Assessment which served as the foundation for NAP. 

Subsequently, our project has been organizing stakeholder dialogues, capacity-building activities, and public awareness campaigns, all of which contribute to a broader understanding of business and human rights issues and their importance in Mongolia.

As the Government serves as the key actor that shapes and enforces policies that compel businesses to respect human rights, its role in the successful implementation of NAP is critical. 

Therefore, our project organized a series of workshops over October and November, bringing together Government officials from eight ministries, representatives from the National Human Rights Commission, local governing bodies, and civil society organizations, providing a comprehensive overview of UNGPs on Business and Human Rights and NAP. 

Nearly 500 diverse groups of key actors were engaged through eleven workshops and showed strong enthusiasm through their active participation.  

Group activity on identifying and addressing issues related with Business and Human Rights

UNDP Mongolia

Empowered with the knowledge and tools gained from the workshops, government officials collaborated in groups to formulate concrete plans and measures to translate policy into action.

Our workshops also encouraged civil society organizations, spearheaded by the Human Rights NGOs Forum of Mongolia, to launch a month-long campaign to accelerate the implementation of the NAP, a commendable effort to bridge the gap between policy and practice. 

As we move forward, we will continue to work hand in hand with our partners to strengthen the implementation of NAP. By empowering individuals, organizations, and the Government with the knowledge and tools they need, we can translate policy into tangible action and create a future where responsible business practices take a solid root and flourish in Mongolia.

Together, we can create a society where businesses not only contribute to economic growth but also serve as ethical champions of human rights, fostering a more just and inclusive society for all.

Ariunaa Tumurtogoo: Business and Human Rights Analyst, UNDP Mongolia

UNDP Mongolia