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Countering rights violations in the garment industry

Graphic: Garment workers rally against hazardous conditions, Bangladesh

NHRIs from across the Asia Pacific will share strategies to promote human rights protections for workers in the garment industry.

With booming global demand for factory-made garments, national human rights institutions (NHRIs) in the Asia Pacific are increasingly alert to the human rights violations that can accompany this work.

From unsafe, and even deadly, workplaces through to salaries below the living wage and violations of labour laws, many garment workers are at serious risk of exploitation and ill-treatment.

In many countries, women make up the majority of garment workers and they can be especially vulnerable to discrimination, abuse and other violations of their human rights.

Further, the intense competition among garment producers often results in attempts to cut costs, which only amplifies the negative impacts on the rights of workers in the industry.

Workers at their stations on the garment production line, Sri Lanka

The garment industry accounts for more than 60% of exported goods in the Asia Pacific region. 40% of workers in industrial production work in the garment sector.

Representatives from seven NHRIs from in the region will gather in Bangkok in late January to identify common human rights challenges in the garment sector and business and human rights more broadly.

The two-day workshop, hosted jointly by the APF and the German Institute for Human Rights (DIMR), will also provide an opportunity for the NHRIs of Bangladesh, India, Malaysia, Myanmar, Mongolia, Pakistan and Thailand to share their experiences in addressing these challenges.

Together, they will discuss practical ways they might support one another and explore what regional and transnational cooperation on these issues might involve.

Another important outcome is for the participating NHRIs to develop strong relationships with others who are working for better outcomes in business and human rights, including government, corporations, civil society and international agencies.

Accordingly, the workshop will also be open to representatives from key UN agencies in Bangkok.

The discussions will also draw on the expertise of the DIMR, which is currently researching human rights risks in sectors where violations of human rights are particularly prevalent.

The work of the DIMR aims to strengthen the role of all NHRIs – on both ends of global supply and value chains – in implementing the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.

Date: 13 January 2017

Image credits

  1. Garment workers rally against hazardous conditions, Bangladesh - Solidarity Center, Flickr; http://bit.ly/2kereBF
  2. Workers at their stations on the garment production line, Sri Lanka - ILO/M.Crozet, Flickr; http://bit.ly/2kem08L