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Achieving Decent Work for All through the lens of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership agreement (RCEP)

13:00 - 14:30 (Bangkok time, GMT+7), 31 May 2021

Click HERE to access the recordings of the RBHR Forum on YouTube

Organised by the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) - Policy and Regulatory Engagement team


This session is intended as a multi-stakeholder participatory discussion, following on from IOSH's contribution to the United Nations Policy Hackathon on Model Provisions for Trade in Times of Crisis and Pandemic in Regional and other Trade Agreements and future influencing activities on the same subject.

Brief description of the session

Besides the remarkable opportunities that the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership agreement (RCEP) trade agreement is expected to bring in the investment arena, an aspect that deserves further consideration is its potential to provide more interconnectedness and knowledge-exchange possibilities among the signatory nations, with view at improving the effectiveness of human rights, decent work and occupational safety and health provisions, in some of those countries. 


This is coming at a time when there’s a strong global impetus for regulatory harmonisation in trade-related labour and occupational safety and health practices, presenting a challenge and opportunity to both advance sustainable and responsible business practices, and to build more resilient global value chains (GVC) around the world.

This session is intended as a multi-stakeholder exploratory discussion to better understand how decent work can inform trade and development strategies in the region.


(Timezone preference for the session allocation early in the morning UK Time 9-12:00h, 3 speakers will be joining from the UK, the other 2 from Thailand and Malaysia)

Session Objectives

The key objectives of this session are to:


  • -To raise awareness on the need for improving the labour and health and safety landscape in the Asean region under the umbrella of this novel agreement

  • - Debate the framework's potential to impact positively or negatively the regional working conditions in global supply chains

  • - To explore how the RCEP pact can support socially responsible trade and sustainability and decent work in the region



Key questions

Part 1 The state-of-the-art of the RCEP

•    What are the benefits of the RCEP across global supply chains and how can it support the promotion of human rights in global supply chains and decent work in the region? 

  • What will it take for the RCEP to stimulate a social compact between governments, the private sector, the social partners and civil society to achieve inclusive and sustainable economic growth and decent work? 

Part 2 OSH and the RCEP

  • As regards trade and investment agreements, the promotion of decent work, the ratification and implementation of core labour standards are an important area of cooperation between the parties involved in the RCEP. Would this create space for the implementation of collaborative initiatives to improve labour standards and OSH at a regional & country level?

  • What would be the impact of recognising OSH as a fundamental right on free trade agreements? 

Part 3 RCEP – Ensuring no one will be left behind

  • How can those Least Developed Countries (LDCs) included in the RCEP, in accordance with their national regulatory frameworks and circumstances, progress towards the effective implementation of human rights, social, labour and health and safety due diligence? 

Part 4 What will the future look like for investment and trade in the region?

  • What will be the impact of the SDGs and Sustainability and OSH (e.g moving beyond coal and palm oil- millions of workers and farmers employed in this dangerous sector)

Additional background documents

IOSH Revitalising 2.0: building back better and healthier report

UNCTAD, Global Investment Trend Monitor, Special RCEP Agreement Edition

For questions, please contact unrbhrforum@undp.org