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Day 3  |  9 June

Human Rights and Environmental Due Diligence in Asia: Principles and practices in Action

11:00-12:30 ICT



Under the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs), all business enterprises have a responsibility to respect human rights. As a demonstration of this responsibility, the UNGPs provide that business must conduct human rights due diligence (HRDD) to, among other things, identify and prevent adverse human rights impacts.

Today, that provision has taken on new level of momentum, especially as European Union (EU) Member States—Germany, France, the Netherlands, others—are implementing new laws requiring that companies of a certain size and in certain industries conduct HRDD, with implications for their business partners in other regions. In February of 2022, the European Commission proposed a Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive to ensure a unified approach to mandatory measures for the EU common market. Then, in October of the same year, the government of Japan, a key member of the G7, published its voluntary Guidelines on Respecting Human Rights in Responsible Supply Chains.

While the steps to conduct HRDD are increasingly understood, the notion of mandatory HRDD (mHRDD) is a newer concern, with growing debates about its potential impacts on business behaviour and social and environmental outcomes in supply chains. Observers note too, the important geo-political implications of HRDD practice as states point to forced labor risks as the basis for “re-shoring,” “near-shoring,” or “friend-shoring” production. Still others, see an imposition from advanced economies on developing Asian economies through increased “compliance” demands. As if to complicate matters, discussions around climate change and biodiversity loss, as well as the right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment has ensured that human rights and environmental due diligence (mHREDD) practice will train attention on the environmental risks posed by business operations.  Less is known of the perspectives of workers on mHREDD, on how and whether due diligence as applied by legislators and business- will be implemented in a way that gives them a meaningful role in the 4-step, due diligence process.

As we move from commitments to action, the theme of this year’s RBHR Forum, Asia’s willingness to embrace mHERDD will have a significant impact on any changes to business behavior for many years to come. The  session, HREDD in Asia: Principles and Practices in Action, will deepen understanding of an area of corporate governance with immediate consequences for Asia and the rest of the world.

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.

About the session

The key objectives of this session are to:

  • Understand the urgency and basis for which mHREDD is being pursued, and the consequences or tradeoffs for inaction or delayed action

  • Clarify whether and to what extent Asian countries and business enterprises are ready to embrace HREDD

  • Outline the challenges and opportunities of fully integrating worker’s perspectives and environmental rights risks into HREDD practice


Panelists will reflect on the following questions:

  1. How and why has HREDD emerged, and how is it affecting/likely to affect supply chains in Asia?

    • How are different jurisdictions interpreting the HRDD agenda (particularly Europe and Japan)?

    • How ready are Asian supply chains for these changes? What might be the most difficult part of HRDD to implement for Asian companies?

    • How does the move to HRDD change the situation, especially for Asia?

  2. How do the most salient human rights risks, for example forced labor or land grabbing in some major supply chains, figure into our understanding of mHREDD? What promise does HREDD actually have in terms of tangible (social and environmental) impact?

  3. How have labour (worker and trade union) concerns been incorporated into due diligence frameworks to date?

    • What role can (and should) workers play in the due diligence process?

    • What can be done to ensure worker perspectives are included in mHREDD, both in principle and practice?

What are the challenges and opportunities of integrating environmental risks are fully integrated into HREDD approaches, while remaining coherent with other monitoring and reporting systems on environmental risks already in play?   

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