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Human Rights Due Diligence and Systemic Inequalities: Conference Report

The British Institute of International and Comparative Law (BIICL) and the University of Copenhagen Centre for Private Governance (CEPRI) held the conference 'Human Rights Due Diligence and Systemic Inequalities' on 25 and 26 October 2021.

The UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs) expect business enterprises to undertake human rights due diligence to identify, prevent, mitigate and account for their adverse human rights impacts, and apply to "all internationally recognised human rights". Equality lies at the heart of the origins and interrelated nature of human rights, and therefore falls squarely within the ambit envisioned by the UNGPs. Existing equality legislation has often focused on individual abuses of the right to inequality, such as discrimination in the workplace, which can be contrasted with systemic inequalities that are built into the wider structures of society.

This conference focussed an intersectional lens on how the UNGPs apply to systemic inequalities, and considered the human rights due diligence responsibilities of companies in relation to systemic inequalities. It also considered how the concepts of going beyond formal equality to substantive equality and justice apply in this context.

The conference took place online and in two parts — Theory and Practice — set over two consecutive days in order to accommodate the speakers' respective time zones.

This report provides an overview of the discussions and is divided into four parts according to the four panels' topics. It contains the written versions of each speaker's contributions in the order of their first appearance.

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