JOIN US! National Action Plans: Stocktaking and Charting the Way Forward
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.
Debbie Stothard is focused on the thematic priorities of business and human rights, atrocity prevention, and women’s leadership. During 1981 – 1996, Debbie worked as a crime reporter, student organizer, policy analyst, academic, government advisor and food caterer in Malaysia and Australia while volunteering for human rights causes. In 1996, she founded ALTSEAN-Burma which spearheads a range of innovative and empowering human rights programs, including its Women of Burma program which has helped strengthen and expand women’s leadership in conflict-affected zones. Since 2005, Debbie has been involved in the delivery of over 500 capacity-building events for grassroots activists - over 100 were focused on macro-economics, business and human rights and related topics. In 2012, Debbie was the civil society speaker at the high-level opening plenary of the 1st UN Forum on Business and Human Rights. She continues to be engaged as a speaker or moderator at related conferences around the world.
Debbie was Secretary-General of FIDH, the International Federation for Human Rights during 2013-2019. She is a member of the Innovation for Change Global Governance Circle and the ESCR-Net Corporate Accountability Working Group Steering Committee. She joined the Board of the global feminist organization AWID in early 2022.
Emilie Palamy Pradichit, the Founder & Executive Director of Manushya Foundation, is an intersectional feminist visionary and international human rights lawyer specializing in accessing justice for marginalized communities through strategic litigation before the United Nations (UN) — where her work has successfully held governments and businesses accountable for their human rights abuses and violations. Working on the ground, she also reinforces the power of women and youth to speak truth to power at the forefront of their fight for justice and equality as well as defends indigenous, forest-dependent, LGBTIQ+ & marginalized communities across Asia. In Thailand, Emilie was the architect of the Independent CSO National Baseline Assessment on Business & Human Rights, which influenced the priority areas of Thailand’s NAP-BHR, and was central to the establishment of the Thai BHR Network.
Emilie sits on the Scientific Board of the René Cassin Foundation, where she teaches the Protection of Human Rights in Asia. She is a Moderator of the Symposium on Strength and Solidarity for Human Rights, and a member of the Advisory Council of the International Center for Not-For-Profit Law (ICNL). In May 2022, Emilie received the Leader by Head and Heart Award.
Vidya Dinker is a social and environmental activist based in Southern India actively engaged in standing with communities against land and resource grab backed by the powerful and the state, as also for the rights of women and religious minorities. She is the National President of the Indian Social Action Forum (INSAF), a national platform of organisations and movements across 15 Indian states. Vidya is also a member of the Coordinating Committee of Tax and Fiscal Justice Asia (TAFJA), and the International Coordinator of the Taxation and Sustainable Finance Working Group of the C20, the Civil Society Forum to the G20.
Shin Young Chung has been a full-time attorney at Advocates for Public Interest Law (APIL) since 2012. At APIL, she has supported victims of human trafficking and human rights violations by Korean companies. She has also actively engaged in research and advocacy through domestic and international human rights mechanisms. She is also a member of Korean Transnational Corporations Watch (KTNC Watch).
Ryutaro Ogawa is a practical lawyer in Tokyo and the Secretary General of Human Rights Now (HRN), which is a Tokyo-based international human rights NGO focusing on human rights issues in the Asia region through fact-finding, advocacy, and empowerment work. As a lawyer, he has addressed a lot of litigations about labor issues and the other human rights abuses relating to the international standards such as refugee issues. He is responsible for advocacy of HRN on business-linked rights abuses as well as other issues including the freedom of expression, the arbitrary detention at immigration centers, and the human rights defenders etc. He is also a member of international human rights committee of Japan Federations of Bar Associations (JFBA) and a board member of Japan International Volunteer Center (JVC).
Organizers: BHRRC, Manushya Foundation, INSAF, KTNC Watch, Human Rights Now, ALTSEAN-Burma, Asia Task Force on the Legally Binding Instrument (ATF), ESCR-Net.