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Human rights in private equity

14 February 2018
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I. Introduction

It is increasingly expected that human rights due diligence (HRDD) is undertaken by businesses, as per the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs),1 OECD Guidelines for multinational enterprises,2 emerging laws such as the UK Modern Slavery Act3 and the French duty of vigilance law,4 and other proposed legislative reforms5.

Failure to identify, prevent and address adverse human rights impacts may lead to reputational, operational, financial and legal risk.
This paper summarises discussions from a workshop convened by the British Institute of International and Comparative Law (BIICL) and the Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) on 14 June 2017, and attended by representatives from Actis, AP2, Coller Capital, ERM, Hg Capital, as well as the OECD, the Institute for Human Rights and Business and Shift. The aim of the workshop was to explore implications of expectations (if any) for HRDD by investors, private equity (PE) firms and/or their portfolio companies, and to discuss what guidance and direction is needed.

This paper includes a summary of the background relating to HRDD and presents some key issues for the PE industry with a view of developing possible further research and guidance.

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