Businesses and States in ASEAN Discuss the Responsibility to Respect Human Rights

Nov 15, 2017

Representatives from UNDP, AICHR, Ministry of Justice of Thailand and ASEAN CSR Network at the training event to enhance understanding of The UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGP).

Chair of the UN Working Group on business and human rights, Dr. Surya Deva, spoke to assembled delegates at the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) training event on Business and Human Rights. In his Special Address, Dr. Deva emphasised how respect by businesses for Human Rights is no longer optional. “Human Rights”, he stressed, “belong to the people and communities where businesses operate. Businesses have a duty to respect these rights.”  

Co-hosted by UNDP, AICHR, Ministry of Justice of Thailand and ASEAN CSR Network, the event gathered participants from government, civil society, business, and National Human Rights Institutions. The four-day event combined in-class discussion with site visits and was attended by 60 people.

The training event enhanced understanding of The UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGP) and implementation challenges. Endorsed by the Human Rights Council in 2011, the UNGP is widely accepted as the most authoritative normative framework for enhancing standards and practices with regard to business and human rights.

Dr. Deva noted that much has been made in recent years of the business-case for respecting human rights. Given growing consumer awareness and interest in how things are made, large multi-national firms are responding more quickly and robustly to human rights risks. Businesses understand that consumers identify with brands and find value in companies that produce products that share their concerns for human rights.

However, Dr. Deva cautioned that while there is a strong business-case for human rights, “business should not think that they should respect human rights only where there is a business case.” He continued, “The business case is separate and apart from the duty to respect,” he said.

As a means of ensuring human rights are respected, enterprises must engage human rights due diligence processes and address adverse impacts of their operations on a ongoing and routine matter. Further, businesses must create credible and effective greivance mechanisms for employees and affected community members. States must continue to uphold their duty to protect human rights through investigation and prosecution of violations, and effective provision of access to justice.

UNDP Asia-Pacific has been engaged in Business and Human Rights since 2015, facilitating regional exchanges of best practices, and through the establishment of regional awareness raising and advocacy efforts. UNDP is assisting regional and national institutions and networks to play their respective roles and functions in furtherance of the UNGP.

Contact information

Livio Sarandrea – Business and Human Rights Advisor, UNDP Asia-Pacific, Business and Human Rights Unit | livio.sarandrea@undp.org

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