The Third Pillar: Remedies, Reparations and the Ruggie Principles

The Business and Human Rights Landscape: Moving Forward, Looking Back, 2015

17 Pages Posted: 20 Jun 2017

See all articles by Jonathan C. Drimmer

Jonathan C. Drimmer

Georgetown University Law Center

Lisa J. Laplante

New England Law | Boston

Date Written: 2015


In 2011, the United Nations Human Rights Council unanimously approved the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGP) proposed by John Ruggie who had been serving as the Special Representative of the U.N. Secretary-General the previous six years. The endorsement of the Ruggie Principles signals an important milestone in the corporate social responsibility movement that has been building momentum since the 1990s. Importantly, the UNGPs present a comprehensive framework to increase the prevention of human rights violations that arise out of business activities while at the same time instituting greater accountability when harm occurs. Specifically, States have a duty to protect human rights while businesses have a duty to respect human rights. In the event that harm occurs, however, victims must have access to a remedy. Significantly, this third pillar gives the framework teeth by assuring a response to human rights violations. This chapter examines the role of remedies in this dynamic framework to offer an initial assessment of where we are two years into the implementation stage of the Ruggie Principles. To provide background, the article begins with a basic overview of the third pillar on remedies, including its history within the development of the Ruggie Principles, its basic content and significance. Additionally, the authors present a conceptual framework for understanding the “system of remedy” envisioned by the UNGPs, as well as clarifying some universal concepts arising out of human rights law that should be used to interpret the UNGPs’ reference to this right. A typology of judicial and non-judicial grievance mechanisms is also provided to demonstrate how the system of remedies works in practice. Finally, the authors explore relevant issues with regard to evaluating the effectiveness of remedies according to international standards.

Keywords: Remedy, human rights, business accountability, treaty law, international law

JEL Classification: K33

Suggested Citation

Drimmer, Jonathan C. and Laplante, Lisa J., The Third Pillar: Remedies, Reparations and the Ruggie Principles (2015). The Business and Human Rights Landscape: Moving Forward, Looking Back, 2015, Available at SSRN:

Jonathan C. Drimmer (Contact Author)

Georgetown University Law Center ( email )

600 New Jersey Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20001
United States

Lisa J. Laplante

New England Law | Boston ( email )

154 Stuart St.
Boston, MA 02116
United States

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