The 11th session of the UN Annual Forum on Business and Human Rights happened from the twenty eighth to the thirtieth of November 2022, after two years of on-line classes due to the COVID pandemic. The underlying theme for this yr’s session was “Strengthening accountability to advance enterprise respect for folks and the planet within the subsequent decade.”
Firms, buyers, organizations, and different stakeholders, no less than these attending the UN Boards on Enterprise and Human Rights, have change into educated and well-versed in discussing “the fitting factor to do”, which is, broadly, how discussions went throughout the classes on the Discussion board. As an alternative, I hoped we may talk about “what to do when issues go unsuitable”.
What also needs to be considered is that the Discussion board is happening only a yr after the UN working group launched the roadmap – because the UNGPs turned 10 – defining the actions for governments, firms, monetary establishments, buyers, and different steps to take to push the UNGPs from commitments to follow. We had been hoping to enter a brand new sensible strategy to implementing the UN working group’s roadmap.
That mentioned, the Discussion board was undoubtedly a possibility to reunite, have enriching facet discussions and be reminded of the significance of getting a rights holder’s views and taking motion collaboratively to forestall hostile impacts on folks and the planet.
Few highlights for firms and buyers:
- Conduct significant consultations with stakeholders and guarantee this engagement and enterprise actions are related by putting rightsholders on the centre. There’s a must develop sound rightsholder engagement methods to counter current auditing practices. Additionally it is essential to transcend engagement and embrace rightsholders within the design and implementation of operational grievance mechanisms and entry to treatment.
- Traders ought to play a extra important function alongside investee firms. The UN Working Group and others shared that shall be an space of focus for 2023. Traders are referred to as to make use of their leverage with portfolio firms, together with utilising current dialogue and proxy voting instruments. Traders are additionally referred to as to contemplate human rights concerns raised by civil society as materials as a result of spotlighting a human situation can already create reputational, authorized, and different enterprise dangers for firms earlier than precise monetary prices.
- There’s quite a lot of uptake and ambition for obligatory Human Rights Due diligence legal guidelines. Nonetheless, this pleasure was toned down a day after the tip of the Discussion board, when the EU Council released and adopted its position on what’s now a weakened upcoming EU legislation on the Company Sustainability Due Diligence Directive (CSDDD). Nonetheless, companies and buyers are suggested to undertake a human rights strategy based mostly on the UNGPs.
- Audio system have highlighted the lack of alignment and correlation between local weather coverage and human rights and referred to as for the pressing must create synergies and options.
- In conflicts, firms and buyers shouldn’t draw back from markets in disaster due to the alternatives that this will deliver to communities on the bottom. Nonetheless, panellists did emphasise the necessity to curb the disconnect between public commitments to “responsibly” have interaction in conflict-affected areas and follow.
As my colleague Julie Muraco emphasised in her newest blogpost, “to really perceive Human Rights, one should dive deeper to grasp subthemes of gender, harassment, pressured labor, youngster trafficking, and rightsholders views”.
I stay up for subsequent yr’s Discussion board with hopefully extra concrete and demanding contributions from rightsholders and discussions across the challenges of stopping hostile impacts on folks and the planet.
Ksapa, based mostly in Paris, France, with places of work in London and New York, may also help your organization implement the takeaways from this session. Get in contact with us and tell us how we may also help.
Krystel is senior guide, contributing to Ksapa’s consulting and advocacy missions, on the subject of enterprise and human rights and extra typically sustainability. Krystel Bassil can also be Senior Authorized Officer of the Human Rights and Enterprise Unit on the Syrian Authorized Improvement Programme (SLDP). Previous to that Krystel labored as a enterprise and human rights guide advising together with main consultants on a variety of initiatives throughout the personal sector, worldwide organizations, and tutorial establishments. She is admitted to the Beirut Bar and labored as a lawyer in worldwide arbitration and human rights. Krystel holds a LL.M. diploma from SOAS, Faculty of Oriental and African Research, College of London, a legislation diploma in public legislation from the Holy Spirit College of Kaslik, Lebanon, and a level in political science from the Saint-Joseph College of Beirut. She is fluent in French, English and Arabic.
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