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National Guidelines for Business and Human Rights

Charities, Social business and Human rights

On November 22, 2018, the Brazilian president published in the Federal Official Gazette Decree No. 9,571/2018, which establishes the National Guidelines for Business and Human Rights ("National Guidelines"), applicable to mid-sized and large companies, as well as multinational companies, which operate in Brazil.

The National Guidelines are in line with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and reflect the compliance by Brazil with the obligation to guarantee rules and policies for the protection of human rights in business activities.

Pursuant to the National Guidelines, the Brazilian State is principally committed to developing, implementing and strengthening public policies for the protection of human rights; stimulating mechanisms for complaints, transparency, reparation of damages and social participation; promoting the enhancement of diversity and inclusion and non-discrimination measures in the workplace; prioritizing sectors with high impact potential on human rights and integrating human rights into social investment and sustainable development; and encouraging the adoption by companies of the National Guidelines.

Reproducing what is determined in the UN Guiding Principles, companies are expected to respect human rights by identifying potential risks and violations of human rights in their operations and adopting adequate prevention controls and reporting mechanisms. In order to comply with these obligations, a company must take concrete measures, such as: (i) implementing educational and training activities for its employees and management and providing national and international perspectives on human rights; (ii) developing a code of conduct that is publicly accessible and expressly describes the company's policy with respect to human rights; (iii) committing to respect the human rights of its workers, clients, third parties and communities and acting with care to prevent human rights violations by monitoring the company's policies and creating a governance structure.

There is a special focus in the National Guidelines on the promotion of decent work, in accordance with the International Labor Organization - ILO Conventions, which require a commitment to fight against forced labor and the exploitation of children and adolescents, which covers the company's productive chain, subsidiaries and suppliers.

The National Guidelines also highlight issues regarding respect for, and promotion of, diversity in the business environment, expressly establishing the inclusion of young people, the elderly, people with disabilities, any group that suffers discrimination in the access to work, women, people with any sexual orientation, transvestites and transgender people, as well as respect for, and fulfillment of, the social rights of traditional peoples and communities.

The Decree also establishes the "Business and Human Rights" Seal, which is granted by means of an act of the Minister of State for Human Rights to companies that voluntarily implement the National Guidelines.

Another point that merits our attention is the creation, in Decree No. 9,571/2018, of the Monitoring Committee, which is composed by members of the public, representatives of the federal government and other members from federal entities and international organizations.

These rules represent an important milestone for the Brazilian Government concerning a subject already much discussed in other countries and by multinational companies. Despite the decision to confer upon the National Guidelines a voluntary nature, experience has demonstrated that the effective adoption of human rights due diligence by companies is part of the risk management process. Accordingly, it is expected that Brazilian companies also adopt this path and integrate respect for human rights into their business.

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