Day 2 | 21 September
Business, Human Rights and Displaced Persons: Enhancing access to durable solutions
Asia–Pacific hosts some of the countries with the highest number of displaced persons. Out of 89.3 million people who were forcibly displaced due to conflict or violence worldwide, a total of 10.6 million people were from Asia–Pacific countries as of end-2021 (UNHCR, 2021a). By the end of 2020, there were a total of 40.5 million new displacements of which 30 million were the result of weather-related hazards such as storms and floods (IDMC, 2021). The region also accounted for over half of the total number of new disaster-induced displacements being the most prone region to disasters (IOM, 2021).
The right to work and access to labour markets are key for displaced persons to become self-reliant, rebuilding their lives and securing their dignity (Roger Z., Héloïse R., 2018). Despite the efforts of governments, businesses, international organizations and non-governmental organizations to facilitate access to employment for displaced persons, they remain one of the most vulnerable populations to exploitation (IOM, 2019). This situation has worsened in the past years due to additional challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change, and continuing war and unrest (UNHCR, 2021b). Without a regular pathway for employment, large numbers of displaced persons are given limited options but to work in the informal sectors, which increases their exposure to exploitative conditions.
The nexus between business, human rights, and displacement is complex. While the primary duty and responsibility for providing humanitarian assistance to displaced persons lie with national authorities, private sector actors can play a transversal role across advancing protection, contributing to peace, and achieving prosperity (UNHCR, 2021c). This in turn will ensure the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals’ principle of “leave no one behind” and promotes sustainable livelihood of all.
This figure includes refugees under UNHCR’s mandate, Palestine refugees under UNRWA’s mandate, asylum seekers, Venezuelans displaced abroad and IDPs – in line with the illustration of UNHCR (n.d.).
To understand the challenges faced by displaced persons in accessing labour markets, and explore how policy makers and businesses can support durable solutions to increase their resilience. In particular, the session will focus on labour mobility pathways, livelihood opportunities and access to employment support services for displaced persons. This multi-stakeholder session intends to bring together policy makers, private sector actors, international organizations, and non-governmental organizations from the Asia-Pacific region to explore their roles and responsibilities in mainstreaming displacement into business and human rights frameworks.
Panellists will reflect on the following questions:
Participation of displaced persons in formal labour markets, the access, barriers and opportunities;
Initiatives that provide fair, equal and decent work for displaced persons;
How can global businesses promote integration and protection of displaced persons in international supply chains?