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UN forum on Business and Human Rights Outcome Report

2019-01-16 17:54

The 7th annual UN forum on Business and Human Rights was held for three days from November 26 to 28, 2018 at the United Nations Headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. Over three days, nearly 3,000 participants from business, governments, international organisations, investors, academia, media and civil society discussed trends, challenges and progress in advancing implementation of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights in all regions of the world. Under the theme “Business respect for human rights – building on what works”, this year’s Forum focused on the second pillar of the Guiding Principles: the corporate responsibility to respect human rights, and in particular the requirement that companies exercise human rights due diligence to prevent adverse impacts on people. This year’s programme includes more than 120 sessions and a series of “snapshot” presentations on key current business and human rights issues.

On the first day of the forum, the opening plenary provided leadership and high-level perspectives on the main theme of the forum. Dante Pesce, Chairperson of UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights, said, “This forum discusses the role of international organisations in promoting Responsible Business Conduct (RBC) in line with the UN Guiding Principles (UNGPs). Business respect for human rights is key to achieving the Sustainable management. Leading businesses have already developed their own human rights due diligence tools and embedded sustainability across all functions.”

This session, ‘Human Rights in International Supply Chains – Where is the disconnect?’ was co-organised by the UN Global Compact and Global Compact Local Networks (France, Germany, Indonesia, Italy, Korea, United Kingdom, etc.). From the perspective of headquarters, local subsidiaries and local suppliers, the panelists shared their experiences in implementing effective human rights due diligence across supply chains, and discussed some of the ways they and their partners are seeking to improve supply chain management in the future.

On the second day of the forum, Michelle Bachelet, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, provided an opportunity for signaling alignment of international standards and action to promote corporate respect for human rights, as well as for reinforcing the message that business respect for human rights must be at the heart of corporate contributions to the 2030 Agenda for SDGs.

Lise Kingo, Executive Director of UN Global Compact, addressed, “Businesses representing all sizes, sectors and geographies are rising to the challenge by integrating human rights throughout their strategies and operations and by finding ways to economically empower the communities in which they operate. However, only few conducts human rights impact assessment and monitoring. Participants are at many different stages on their sustainability journeys, and they are designed to facilitate learning and inspire further action as we seek to build a global movement of sustainable companies and stakeholders.”

On the third day of the forum, the closing plenary took stock of key messages from the forum, reiterating the most critical gaps and challenges as well as highlighting the most promising innovations, emerging practices and collective action efforts such as judicial mechanism of human rights due diligence and implementation of SMEs.

‘UNGC Local Networks, Business and Human Rights’ will be published in January to introduce and share business and human rights activities of different Local Networks. Global Compact Network Korea will continue to promote the importance of corporate human rights due diligence to enable business enterprises meet their responsibility to respect human rights.

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