BANGKOK, 12 June 2018 – The ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) continued its efforts to elevate business and human rights in the region through an interregional dialogue held on 4 – 6 June in Bangkok.
The Interregional Dialogue: Sharing Good Practices on Business and Human Rights was attended by more than 200 participants from the AICHR, ASEAN Commission on the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Women and Children, the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights, relevant UN agencies, regional human rights mechanisms from the European Union and Arab League, National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs), diplomatic corps, CSOs, business representatives, and other relevant stakeholders.
In his remarks, Air Chief Marshal Prajin Juntong, Thai Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Justice, highlighted the Royal Thai Government’s commitment to the implementation of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs) and encouraged other ASEAN Member States to also follow the UNGPs to help improve the region’s economy as a whole. “Conducting business that respects human rights can create a culture of fairness and decrease social disparities in many aspects such as decreasing dispute between employer and employee, minimizing environmental problems that affect health and utilizing natural resources that will not affect the local communities,” he said.
The dialogue marked the first occasion when the AICHR convened a dialogue among regional human rights mechanisms and NHRIs from the Asia-Pacific region.
The event provided an avenue for the participants to discuss challenges as well as good practices on the implementation of the UNGPs in the region and beyond. Each session generated a discussion with resource persons coming from different backgrounds on various issues such as gender perspective to business and human rights, supply chain management, and human rights due diligence.
A challenge that stood out in relation to multinational companies and the implementation of the UNGPS was one related to supply chains. Participants noted that big multinational companies engage with different suppliers in several tiers, and as such, it was difficult to ensure that the UNGPs were observed in the operations of each tier.
Dialogue participants pointed out that collective actions should be the way forward to address the adverse human rights impact from business activities. It was also underlined that business sector was one of the key elements in this effort and to ensure their meaningful participation in the implementation of the UNGPs, awareness-raising programme was crucial to increase the understanding of the business sector on the importance and benefit of complying with the UNGPs.
The dialogue was organised by Dr. Seree Nonthasoot, the Representative of Thailand to the AICHR, with support from UNDP Asia-Pacific, the Royal Norwegian Embassy, the Department of Rights and Liberty Protection of the Ministry of Justice Thailand, the Australian Human Rights Commission, ASEAN CSR Network, UNESCAP and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.