• More investors are beginning to take note of human rights risks and pressuring companies to step up their efforts to prevent abuses, but further progress needs to be made, a new UN report states.

According to the report, more investors are beginning to take note of human rights risks, but further progress needs to be made

According to the report, more investors are beginning to take note of human rights risks, but further progress needs to be made

Too many businesses are putting profit above human rights and ignoring their obligations, while governments fail to "regulate and lead by example", a group of United Nations (UN) rights experts has said.

In a human rights report published by the UN, companies are being urged to comply with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, which provides a framework for how States and investors should address shortcomings in boardrooms and business practice at all levels.

The chair of the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights, Dante Pesce, says human rights due-diligence was "fundamentally about preventing negative impacts on people". He explains that identifying and being transparent about risks was the first step towards the prevention of abuses.

"Ensuring that human rights are respected across their own activities and value chains is the most significant contribution most companies can make towards sustainable development," he adds.

The group's report, presented to the United Nations General Assembly last week, found that more investors were scrutinising and pressuring companies to manage human rights risks and prevent abuses, but also that more investors should join the trend.

The report revealed a few companies in various industries are leading the way, but most businesses seem unaware of their human rights responsibility or unwilling to implement human rights due diligence. On government performance, the expert group found a few promising legal and policy developments, but also that more action is needed.

"In spite of an overall picture of slow progress, the good news is that human rights due-diligence can be done," Pesce asserts, pressing that businesses can no longer blame a lack of knowledge for inaction. "Evidence is clearly suggesting that doing the right thing is also the smart thing to do."

Business respect for human rights and human rights due diligence in practice is the focus of this year's United Nations Forum on Business and Human Rights, to be held in Geneva, Switzerland, from 26-28 November.