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Showcasing good practice in business and human rights

Graphic: Workers leave a Thai factory at the end of their shift

NHRIs from South East Asia have shared their insights at an inter-regional dialogue organised by ASEAN's Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights.

National human rights institutions (NHRIs) from Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Thailand and India have shared their insights on promoting respect for human rights in the business sector, as part of an inter-regional dialogue organised by the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights.

More than 200 participants attended the Dialogue – held in Bangkok from 4-6 June 2018 – including representatives from government, civil society and business in ASEAN countries, as well as representatives from the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights, key UN agencies and relevant bodies from the European Union and Arab League.

A number of ASEAN countries are considering and preparing National Action Plans on Business and Human Rights and ASEAN, as a whole, has recognised the important implications – to the environment, labour and marginalised groups, among others – arising from economic development and regional integration.

Accordingly, as speakers noted, a regional approach is required to address the human rights impacts experienced by individuals and communities as a result of growing levels of business activity across national borders.

NHRIs are making an important contribution to this work, using their unique mandate to apply the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs) in their respective countries.

This includes advising on national policy, legislation and regulations; monitoring and reporting on emerging issues; and supporting individuals to seek a remedy for human rights violations they have experienced.

Across all aspects of this work, NHRIs also recognise the rights of vulnerable groups, including women, children, indigenous peoples and migrant workers.

Representatives from the NHRIs of Malaysia ("Workers' rights and businesses"), Thailand ("Grievance mechanisms and effective remedy framework") and of India ("Beyond ASEAN: global and regional perspective to UNGP") shared their experiences in sessions across the three-day conference.

Discussions also considered the challenges and progress made in relation to monitoring the supply chains of large multinational corporations, as well as the role of financial institutions.

On 7 June, following the Inter-regional Dialogue, the Australian Human Rights Commission facilitated a roundtable discussion for NHRIs to share examples of their work on business and human rights, along with their current priorities.

The roundtable was attended by the NHRIs of Australia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines and Thailand.

The enthusiastic participation and wide variety of case studies shared during the roundtable highlighted the strong focus that NHRIs place on this work and the many opportunities for NHRIs to collaborate and learn from each other.

The case studies presented to the roundtable will shortly be posted on the APF website.

Date: 15 June 2018

Image credits

  1. Workers leave a Thai factory at the end of their shift - APF