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Day 3  |  9 June

Where is Disability in the Business and Human Rights Agenda? 

14:00-15:30 ICT



The UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs) mandate that businesses have a responsibility to respect internationally recognized human rights, including the UN Convention on Rights of Persons with Disability. However, the rights of persons with disabilities – together with the distinct intersectional challenges they are likely to face in accessing these rights – continue to be relatively overlooked in the business and human rights (BHR) agenda. While some progress has been made in relation to the inclusion of persons with disabilities in the context of labour rights as a part of efforts to, for example, prevent workplace discrimination, persons with disabilities continue to face significant barriers to accessing and protecting their human rights. This is especially true in the Asia-Pacific region, where an estimated 690 million people live and work with a range of disabilities – with this number expected to grow in the coming decades. 

Recent reports by the Special Rapporteur on the rights of persons with disabilities have highlighted the responsibility of the disability service industry as well as the role of technology companies and their impacts on persons with disabilities, whilst noting the broader need for the business sector to embrace its responsibilities to respect human rights and become a partner for change (1). 

To foster a culture of diversity, equity and inclusion that places persons with disabilities – as important rights-holders – at the center, this session will explore the current state of disability inclusion in the BHR agenda. In so doing, it will address the intersectional challenges and opportunities faced by persons with disabilities in the BHR context, as well as discuss current and potential strategies for enhancing the protection of the rights of persons with disabilities in line with the UNGPs. 

About the session

This session will include 4-5 speakers from a variety of settings to share views on how mHRDD might give shape to a new social and economic landscape in Asia. To better understand the full potential of HRDD, and any tradeoffs, speakers will address the most controversial questions being asked by trade unionists, political analysts, business leaders and environmentalists.


The key objectives of this session are to:

  • Identify and explore the extent to which the rights of persons with disabilities are currently featured in the BHR agenda;

  • Broaden the conversation in the Asia-Pacific region on disability and business to incorporate but also look beyond labour rights issues;

  • Discuss the policy and legal implications of disability inclusion within the BHR agenda by exploring pathways to enhance the effectiveness of existing frameworks and mechanisms; 

  • Explore how the UNGPs can offer tools for companies to respect the rights of persons with disabilities within their operations, value chains, business relationships, and in society at large.

  • Showcase examples of good practices in the Asia-Pacific region where respect for the rights of persons with disabilities has been effectively integrated into corporate strategies and business operations, and where this integration has generated positive impacts on businesses’ performance.

  • Identify future focus areas in the BHR agenda related to the rights of persons with disabilities in the Asia-Pacific region, including areas for research, advocacy, and action. 


Panelists will reflect on the following questions:

  • Why is it important to amplify the voices and lived experiences of persons with disabilities in the global and regional BHR agendas? 

  • To what extent are the rights of persons with disabilities being discussed in, and advanced by, the current business and human rights agenda within the Asia-Pacific region?

  • What are the BHR-related challenges and barriers faced by persons with disabilities in the Asia-Pacific region?

  • How can States and businesses protect and actualize the rights of persons with disabilities in this region? What are some leverage points and examples of good practice? 

  • How should businesses integrate their responsibility to respect the rights of persons with disabilities through their human rights due diligence (HRDD) processes? Put differently, what would a disability-sensitive HRDD process look like for business? 


[1] A/HRC/52/32; A/HRC/49/5

Image by Sigmund
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