United Nations Responsible Business and Human Rights Forum, Asia-Pacific
Side Session | 7 June
Mainstreaming Business and Human Rights Agenda in ASEAN: Whereabouts and opportunities ahead
Organized by: World Benchmarking Alliance, Collective of Applied Law and Legal Realism, AICHR Thailand and AICHR Malaysia
The conversation on business and human rights at the ASEAN level is not new. The ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR), over the past several years, have hosted dialogues and consultations for an opportunity to share and exchange, among others, challenges and best practices of the state and non-state actors on components that fall under business and human rights such as encapsulating the gender perspective, addressing supply chain management and human rights due diligence (HRDD).
One of the growing concerns in business and human rights and in the Southeast Asian region is on environment and climate change. The impact of climate change affects one’s human rights including their right to health and right to clean, safe drinking water and sanitation. There is yet means to address the multiple nexuses of (i) state and businesses and (ii) human rights and environment, despite the intersectionality of the arising and ongoing issues that ultimately converts itself as persisting challenges in Southeast Asia.
In the months of May and June 2023, under the leadership of AICHR Malaysia and Thailand, a series of Regional Consultations on Business and Human Rights were held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and Bangkok, Thailand.
With an aim to support ASEAN’s ongoing endeavours to strengthen its approach to environmental policymaking and protection, AICHR Malaysia is hosting the AICHR Regional Consultation on Business and Human Rights, Environment and Climate Change in ASEAN on 29-30 May 2023. The Consultation brought together experts and policymakers in the region to reaffirm the important link between environment and full enjoyment of human rights, the need to focus on accountability, and access to justice and public participation as well as multi-stakeholder platforms to mainstream a rights-based approach to environmental protection in ASEAN.
Equally an important moment, on 1 June 2023, AICHR Thailand organises the AICHR Regional Dialogue: Sharing Good Practices on the Business and Human Rights in ASEAN to stocktake and discuss global progress and trends towards mandatory due diligence, including corporate human rights benchmarking initiatives to incentivise companies performance in bringing social transformation, and provide an opportunity for stocktaking of recent progress among ASEAN member states and the role of AICHR, as the regional human rights body, in implementing the UNGPs, exploring the lessons learnt on the application of the HRDD regarding access to remedy to those being impacted such as the SMEs and migrant labours as well as impact on environmental rights.
Against these backdrop above, this side session of the 2023 United Nations Responsible Business and Human Rights Forum, Asia Pacific is initiated as an avenue for:
- Public consultation and engagement on the outcome of, and ways forward following, the Regional Consultation and Dialogue.
Providing a space of discussion on the key learnings and progress of corporate actors in the ASEAN region.
Stocktake and share recommendations for ASEAN policy priorities in business and human rights space, particularly human rights and environmental due diligence.
Panelists will reflect on the following questions:
What are the key learnings, discussions and recommendations that emerged from the two key AICHR events?
What is the progress of the ASEAN member states and AICHR as the overarching human rights mechanism in ASEAN in mainstreaming business and human rights and the UNGPs in the region?
How are the performance of state and corporate actors in ASEAN so far?
What needs to be prioritised to create an enabling environment that incentivises business to move towards sustainable and inclusive practices in the social space?