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ASEAN pushes forward on upholding human rights in business

The two-day dialogue took stock of recent progress among ASEAN Member States in implementing the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs)

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ASEAN pushes forward on upholding human rights in economic pursuit

BANGKOK, 13 June 2019 – ASEAN continues to push forward on upholding human rights in pursuit of economic prosperity as the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) conducted the 2019 AICHR Interregional Dialogue: Sharing Good Practices on Business and Human Rights on 10-11 June in Bangkok, Thailand.

The two-day dialogue took stock of recent progress among ASEAN Member States in implementing the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs), particularly development of a national action plan on business and human rights.

It also discussed the interaction between the UNGPs and expansion of trade liberalisation through Free Trade Agreements.

In his opening remarks, Deputy Prime Minister of Thailand Dr. Wissanu Krea-Ngam highlighted that in addition to serving as a key to furthering economic prosperity and sustainable development in the region, UNGPs were also instrumental to tackle challenges that remain in its implementation, particularly in the areas of cross border investments, environmental problems and social disparities.

Attended by 180 participants from the region and beyond, the dialogue noted the progress made globally to ensure the effective implementation of the UNGPs, namely the adoption of National Action Plan (NAP) on Business and Human Rights by 21 countries around the globe and the launch of NAP by Thailand at the end of June 2019, which will be the first NAP in Southeast Asia.

The dialogue also noted rooms for improvements including continuing raising awareness among the relevant stakeholders on the UNGPs. It highlighted the importance to conduct human rights due diligence for businesses in all sizes and sectors, as well as to incorporate gender lens in the implementation of UNGPs and more broadly in business conduct and regulations.

Further, the discussions included the role of public investment institutions on their concerns to respect human rights in their consideration for investment options.  In addition, the discussion on compatibility between international trade agreement and respect for human rights concluded that economic agreement must be managed with human rights mindset. 

Finally, partnership for change must involve perspectives from all stakeholders including local and transnational corporations, Corporate Social Responsibility networks, advocacy Civil Society Organisations, international organisations, etc.

AICHR Thailand organised the dialogue on behalf of the AICHR with support from the Ministry of Justice of Thailand, Norway, Switzerland, the Australian Human Rights Commission, and related international organisations, namely, United Nations Development Programme, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and International Labour Organization.

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