Consultation | 6 June
Regional Multi-stakeholder Consultation and Workshop on the Future of Migration, Business and Human Rights in Asia: Theory of change and priority areas of engagement
Organized by UNDP and IOM
By invitation only
Unanimously endorsed by the UN Human Rights Council in 2011, the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs) are based on three complementary pillars – the State duty to protect against human rights abuses by third parties, including business; the corporate responsibility to respect human rights; and the need for more effective access to remedies. While the UNGPs and the overall Business and Human Rights (BHR) agenda gained traction only after 2015 in Asia, the pace and progress have been exponential in the past few years. Most notably, three States in Asia have adopted a stand-alone National Action Plan on BHR, while several others are in development. An increasing number of companies are developing human rights policies and conducting Human Rights Due Diligence (HRDD). However, this progress has been uneven, and a pervasive gap exists between rhetoric and practice.
The UN Sustainable Development Agenda recognizes migration as an important driver for development. Labour migration is a means for policymakers at destination countries to offset demographic changes and increasing labour shortages. There is evidence that labour migration contributes positively to GDP-growth in destination countries, while remittances and other resources sent back home by migrant workers are critical factors for poverty reduction and community development. Migrant workers are integrated into the global economy in various sectors such as agriculture, construction, food-processing, manufacturing, services and hospitality. Migrant workers are also present throughout the supply chains in sectors such as logistics, warehousing, security, transport, and janitorial, among others. As a region, Asia continues to attract large-scale foreign direct investment while providing significant productive input to these globalized supply chains and economic sectors. Prior to COVID-19, Southeast Asia alone hosted 10 million international migrants, most of whom had moved in search of gainful employment. Labour migration in the region is primarily temporary, employer-specific, and for primary occupations and lower-wage segments of the labour markets.
Although the benefits of migration are well-documented, migrant workers in the global economy remain at risk of various forms of human and labour rights violations at all stages of the labour migration journey. In Asia, there are a multitude of initiatives led by development agencies, governments, civil society and business partners to promote labour migration systems/ governance in a way that the rights of migrant workers are protected and respected, implement ethical recruitment standards that address migrant workers’ vulnerabilities to exploitation during the migration process, and encourage collaboration across industries and stakeholders to achieve sustainable positive change.
The “Protect, Respect, Remedy” Framework of the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs) is grounded in international human rights and labour rights standards, has received multistakeholder endorsement, and is well understood by both governments and business in the context of their obligations as duty-bearers, with extensive guidance regarding metrics for good practice. At the same time, it is well understood that labour migration governance gaps exist as governments in the region strive to implement the principles of the Global Compact on Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM) in line with the relevant Sustainable Development Goals. While stakeholders understand that both governments and business have obligations to protect migrant workers from human rights violations during their migration and employment, the integration of migration-related issues into the UNGP framework has not been thoroughly conceptualized.
UNDP and IOM will host a regional multistakeholder consultation to conceptualize further and validate a Migration, Business and Human Rights theory of change for Asia, and inform the development of future programming to ensure that it:
is rights-based, rightsholders-centred and gender-transformative
is demand-driven and responds to identified needs on the ground;
contributes to the broader B+HR and development ecosystems and ensure synergies with other initiatives
effectively mainstreams labour migration into the “Protect, Respect, Remedy” Framework
Target Audience: This regional consultation will focus on multinational enterprises, employer groups, industry groups, civil society organizations, UN agencies in Asia and will be complemented by bilateral and national level consultations to dive deeper into the opportunities and challenges at the country level. Governments will be included during the national level consultations to promote an all-of government approach to incorporate participation and feedback from the various ministries with mandates that include aspects of labour migration governance (e.g., labour, health, border management, interior, development).