Increasing State Oversight of Corporate Human Rights Governance: The Canadian Ombudsperson for Responsible Enterprise

7 February 2018
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Key takeaways

  • On January 17, 2018, Canada announced the creation of an independent Canadian Ombudsperson for Responsible Enterprise (the “CORE”), with a mandate to investigate alleged human rights abuses linked to Canadian corporate activity abroad. Initially, the CORE’s scope will focus on the mining, oil and gas, and garment sectors. However, the government expects to expand the CORE’s scope broadly into other business sectors within a year of the Ombudsperson’s taking office.
  • The CORE is the latest thread in tightening state oversight of extraterritorial corporate human rights impacts and governance across the globe. Although the CORE’s practical implications will turn on its precise jurisdiction, which is still to be defined, it is the latest signal to business that human rights governance has become a legal challenge.
  • Given the growing web of human rights legislation and regulation, including the CORE, businesses everywhere are advised to pay even closer attention to their compliance with applicable legal standards, the UN Guiding Principles and OECD Guidelines, and to implement policies and procedures mitigating the risk of adverse human rights or environmental impacts.