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Partnerships for progress in the garment industry

Graphic: Participants at the APF-DIMR workshop

The importance of building closer ties was a key area of discussion at a workshop involving the NHRIs from across the Asia Pacific.

Efforts to countering exploitation and human rights violations in the garment industry can be greatly strengthened when national human rights institutions (NHRIs) cooperate and share their expertise.

The importance of building closer ties was a key area of discussion at a two-day APF workshop involving representatives from the NHRIs of Thailand, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Mongolia, India, Pakistan and the Philippines.

During the workshop, held in Bangkok from 30-31 January 2017, participants shared examples of their NHRI's work to promote and protect the rights of garment workers, as well as their efforts on business and human rights more broadly.

The workshop provided an opportunity to explore in detail the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and how NHRIs can incorporate its three pillars in their work by:

  • Working with government in order to comply with the 'duty to protect', especially with regards to enforcement of the law and victims' access to remedy
  • Providing guidance to companies to implement human rights due diligence
  • Addressing barriers so that victims have access to an effective remedy.

Graphic: Participants at the APF-DIMR workshop

All NHRIs represented taking part in the event agreed that more needs to be done to ensure that victims of human rights violations have access to a safe, timely and robust mechanism that will address their complaints.

They also agreed on the need to build greater understanding of human rights issues within the garment sector among all stakeholders, including producers, buyers, governments and workers.

In a group statement developed at the conclusion of the workshop, participants highlighted areas for NHRI cooperation on a global, regional and bilateral basis, including:

  • Awareness-raising programs for government officials and business representatives, as well as guidance for business on how to assess human rights risks and impacts.
  • Joint development of standards and methods concerning human rights risk assessments and human rights impact assessments.
  • Joint interaction with stakeholders.

The program was facilitated by Kate Turner-Mann, APF Regional Training Manager, and Jan-Christian Niebank from the German Institute for Human Rights (DIMR). They were joined by a representative from UNDP Bangkok regional office.

The DIMR are undertaking research into the gaps in human rights protection in the garment sector, with a particular focus on German firms and the human rights risks in transnational supply chains

Date: 10 February 2017

Image credits

  1. Participants at the APF-DIMR workshop - APF/Kate Turner-Mann
  2. Participants at the APF-DIMR workshop - APF/Kate Turner-Mann