Partner Side Event | 21 September
National Action Plans: Stocktaking and Charting the Way Forward
Hosted by: BHRRC, Manushya Foundation, INSAF, KTNC Watch, Human Rights Now, ALTSEAN-Burma, Asia Task Force on the Legally Binding Instrument (ATF), ESCR-Net
In the first decade of the UNGPs, we witnessed the introduction of National Action Plans (NAPs) on Business and Human Rights (BHR) by Thai, Japanese and Pakistani governments, to fulfill their pillar one obligations in the Asia-Pacific region. Nevertheless, more and more civil society organizations have raised concerns on the limitations of the NAPs and their implementation, especially in the Southeast Asian region. For instance, after almost 20 years of devastating human rights and environmental impacts, communities in Thailand’s Phichit province are still waiting for compensation for the harm inflicted on them by gold mining operations. After the initial closure of the mine, the corporation led an international arbitration against the Thai government and filed SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation) cases against human rights defenders pushing back against its harassment and intimidation. As of 2023, the company will be re-opening the gold mine under new renewed licenses. Across India too, various harmful projects are being opposed by those directly impacted, and the government responding with repressive measures. In Odisha state, a long-fought battle and final victory against a steel giant has been short lived. The farmers and fisherfolk, now resisting the establishment of an integrated steel, cement and captive power plant to come up in the same area, are yet again facing arrest, fabricated cases and police pickets cutting off their village from external support. To strengthen state actions, enhancement of mandatory approaches to companies’ pillar two responsibility has become increasingly more and more relevant.
In order to address the human rights violations as well as the environmental damages caused by the corporations in their supply chains, the legal framework on mandatory human rights and environmental due diligence has been introduced, adopted, and implemented in different regions. With France and Germany’s adoption of such legislation and the proposed directive on Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence at the EU level, much attention has been given to the developments in Europe in terms of such measures.
In Asia, both Japanese and Korean governments have respectively initiated a process to draft human rights due diligence guidelines applicable to supply chains of companies. Impacts of businesses of these East Asian countries are significant to Southeast Asian countries, where much of their supply chains are located. While guidelines may be welcomed as an initial step, civil society is pushing for more mandatory measures to keep companies in check. Learning from the shortcomings of the NAPs and their implementation, stakeholders have found it necessary to have mandatory human rights and environmental due diligence legislation in order to ensure the sustainability in the supply chains, to hold companies accountable and to provide the means to access to remedies for the victims.
Under such circumstances and considering the linkages of these subregions in Asia, the session aims at providing an opportunity to review implementation of NAPs, and to discuss Mandatory Human Rights and Environmental Due Diligence (MHREDD) as a way forward in respecting human rights in business.
The key objectives of this session are to:
Review and identify specific challenges in the implementation of NAPs on BHR in Thailand and India;
Develop proposals to advocate for MHREDD legislations that go beyond the NAP, suitable to address respective contexts in which participants work;
Start a network among Asian activists for further advocacy on MHREDD in global supply chains for Asian multinational corporations.
Introductions and objective setting
Recent Developments on the LBI
Organizers: BHRRC, Manushya Foundation, INSAF, KTNC Watch, Human Rights Now, ALTSEAN-Burma, Asia Task Force on the Legally Binding Instrument (ATF), ESCR-Net.