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Over the past decade, due in part to the devastating impact of the global financial crisis of 2008 and growing awareness of climate change, the world witnessed increasing interest on the part of society in general, and investors in particular, for responsible business. “Responsible business” is the concept that business should be conducted in a way that 1) does not violate fundamental rights of the people affected by the business activity; 2) does not exacerbate environmental harm; and 3) complies with basic principles of good governance. Society’s interest in responsible business has been reflected in growing pressure on businesses to disclose information regarding their impact on the environment and human rights and to take steps to address them.

In the United States, given the limited engagement of the legal profession with the UNGP (United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights), more needs to be done to educate the legal community on the importance of the UNGP and BHR (Business and Human Rights) more generally. Given their role in either formally regulating the legal profession or providing advocacy and a unified voice as well as enforcing ethical standards, bar associations have a major role to play in educating and mobilizing the legal profession around BHR. At a minimum, bar associations should actively encourage understanding and implementation of the UNGP through conferences, regional initiatives, and training programs. In such cases, it is recommended that bar associations look to engage directly with their members by way of working groups or training programs, in order to encourage a deeper understanding and adherence to the standards established by the UNGP. Given their positions of influence in legal and business communities, bar associations should consider endorsing the UNGP.

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