JOIN OUR SIDE EVENT at the #UNForumBHR! "UNGPs and NAPs: A Remedy for Victims and HRDs?"
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, State’s obligations, in the Asia-Pacific region. In Latin America, one emblematic case is the ‘Mexico scenario’ where the government started the development of its first NAP-BHR in 2015, but fell short after civil society formally disengaged from the process in July 2017. Mexican civil society organizations (CSOs) were disappointed by the draft not aligning with their comprehensive contributions and recommendations made over two years. It is only this year, in 2022, that the Mexican government is attempting to revive the development of its first ever NAP-BHR. CSOs and human rights defenders are now increasingly raising concerns on the limitations of the NAPs and their implementation.
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) suits to judicially harass and silence human rights defenders denouncing the harmful mining operations. As of 2023, the company will be re-opening the gold mine under new renewed licenses. To strengthen state actions, the enhancement of mandatory approaches to companies’ pillar two responsibility has become increasingly more and more relevant.
In order to address the human rights abuses 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, the Japanese government has initiated a process to draft human rights due diligence guidelines applicable to supply chains of companies. Impacts of Japanese businesses 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 remedies for the victims.
Under such circumstances, and considering these global linkages, 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.
Organizers: BHRRC, Manushya Foundation, ISHR, PODER