The ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) convened the Interregional Dialogue: Sharing Good Practices on Business and Human Rights on 4-6 June 2018. More than 200 participants attended the Dialogue from the AICHR, ASEAN Commission on the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Women and Children (ACWC), 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.
H.E. Air Chief Marshal Prajin Juntong, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Justice, in his remarks 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. Furthermore, he emphasized that “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.”
This Dialogue was part of the AICHR’s continued efforts to elevate business and human rights in ASEAN and marked the first occasion that the AICHR convene a dialogue among regional human rights mechanisms and NHRIs from the Asia-Pacific region. The Dialogue 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 constructive discussion with resource persons coming from different parts of the world on various issues, for instance, gender perspective to business and human rights, supply chain management, and human rights due diligence.
Over the course of the three-day Dialogue, the resource persons and participants highlighted that in relation to multinational companies, supply chains stand out as one of the challenges in the implementation of the UNGPs. Big multinational companies engage with different suppliers in several tiers and it is difficult to ensure that the UNGPs are observed in the operations of each tiers. Collective actions should be the way forward to address the adverse human rights impact from business activities. Business sector is one of the key elements in this effort and to ensure their meaningful participation in the implementation of the UNGPs, awareness-raising program is crucial to increase the understanding of the business sector on the importance and benefit of complying with the UNGPs.
This Dialogue was organized 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 OECD.