Companies, governments, NGOs, workers and community representatives will meet in Doha, Qatar, from April 19 to 20 to discuss key business and human rights issues in Asia.
The Asia Regional Forum on Business and Human Rights is being convened by the United Nations Working Group on Business and Human Rights with the support of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.
It will bring together some 300 participants, according to a message received here from Geneva on Tuesday.
“Asian countries represent a growing share of the global economy and have seen impressive growth over the past decades. At the same time, there is increasing attention on companies’ adverse human rights impacts across all sectors,” said Dante Pesce, who chairs the group of independent experts.
“Preventing and addressing such impacts is a defining human rights issue of our time,” he said.
Pesce said Asia is a vast region, spanning from Saudi Arabia in West Asia, to Indonesia in Southeast Asia, and China in East Asia.
The Forum will, therefore, address diverse issues, sometimes with a sub-regional or sectorial lens, he said. .
The main focus will be to identify how governments and companies can concretely meet their respective human rights obligations and responsibilities, for example through developing national action plans and better managing their supply chains,” he added.
Pavel Sulyandziga, vice-chair of the UN Working Group said this is the first time that the UN is convening a regional Forum on this topic in Asia.
It is a unique opportunity to discuss the steps needed to ensure that business operations and economic development projects do not undermine human rights,” said the Vice Chair.
The Forum will center on implementation of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, which were endorsed by UN Member States in 2011 as the authoritative global standard to prevent and manage the risk of business-related human rights harm.
Specific topics include: garment sector supply chains; the rights of migrant workers; land investments; the rights of indigenous peoples; mega sporting events; measures to prevent forced and child labour; corporate reporting on human rights; and ways to ensure access to effective remedy when harms occur.
Speakers at the Forum include John Ruggie, author of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, who will deliver the keynote address and speak about his soon-to-be-released recommendations to FIFA on human rights.
Representatives of Governments and inter-governmental organizations; industry representatives from major Asian economies; multinational corporations such as Adidas, Coca-Cola, EY Japan, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, McDonald's, Microsoft, Repsol and Thai Union, the heads of the International Trade Union Confederation and of the International Organization of Employers, workers and indigenous peoples’ representatives from across Asia and non-governmental organizations will attend.
The event follows similar UN Regional Forums in Africa in 2014 and Latin America and the Caribbean in 2013. It will feed into the 2016 global UN Forum on Business and Human Rights to be held from November 14 to 16 in Geneva.