2020 UN South Asia Forum on Business and Human Rights

We regret to inform you that due to the Novel Coronavirus, and unpredictability of travel restrictions put in place by different governments, we have decided to postpone as a precautionary measure the 2nd UN South Asia Forum on Business and Human Rights, scheduled for 18-20 March 2020, in Kathmandu, Nepal.

The co-organizers sincerely apologize for any inconvenience this may cause you. We will update you on a new date for this Forum as soon as we can confirm it.

Date:To be announced in due course
Location:  Kathmandu, Nepal
Queries related to programme, sessions, speakers, participation, side events, etc.: Harpreet.kaur@undp.org
Concept note:  Available now
Registration:  Available in due course
Programme:  Available in due course

Background

The Inaugural UN South Asia Forum on Business and Human Rights – held in New Delhi, India, on 14-15 March 2019 – brought together over 200 participants representing over 90 organisations from 16 countries. This regional forum was aimed at raising awareness about business and human rights issues in South Asia and facilitating the implementation of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs), including through national action plans. Building on the success of the Inaugural UN South Asia Forum, the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights (UNWG) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) are co-organising the 2nd UN South Asia Forum on Business and Human Rights in Kathmandu, Nepal.

The UNWG, in collaboration with other partners, has been promoting the effective dissemination and implementation of the UNGPs in different world regions, including by organising regional events to foster races to the top. The annual South Asia Forum is part of this wider engagement strategy.

Objectives

  • To raise awareness and build the capacity of various stakeholders around business and human rights standards, especially the UNGPs;
  • To take stock of the key challenges, opportunities and progress made in South Asia in implementing the UNGPs, including through the development of national action plans;
  • To explore linkages in the implementation of the UNGPs and the 2030 Agenda; and
  • To encourage peer-learning amongst States, national human rights institutions (NHRIs), businesses, industry associations, trade unions and civil society organisations (CSOs) in South Asia, facilitating the regional exchange of good practices in implementing the UNGPs and the SDGs.

Key issues

The UN South Asia Forum on Business and Human Rights will provide a multi-stakeholder platform to facilitate discussions on issues such as the following:

  • General introduction to the UNGPs;
  • Potential pathways to implement the UNGPs through national action plans in South Asia;
  • Learning lessons from other countries with a national action plan (e.g., Thailand);
  • Achieving policy coherence between realising human rights and promoting trade/investment (e.g., state-owned enterprises, trade/investment agreements, foreign direct investment and special economic zones);
  • Linkages between the UNGPs, the right to development and the 2030 Agenda;
  • BHR and sustainable finance;
  • Gender dimensions of BHR (including sexual harassment and gender-based violence);
  • Occupational safety and health at the workplace;
  • Protecting the rights of migrant workers and workers in the informal sector;
  • BHR challenges faced by small and medium-sized enterprises;
  • Environmental pollution and climate change;
  • Human rights due diligence, including environmental/social impact assessment;
  • Managing sector-specific human rights impacts (e.g., extractive, manufacturing, agriculture, textile, electronics, technology, ship-breaking, tourism, hydropower, and infrastructure);
  • The role of CSOs, human rights defenders, trade unions and NHRIs in promoting business respect for human rights;
  • Access to remedy and corporate accountability.

Participation

Representatives of Governments, businesses, industry associations, CSOs, trade unions, indigenous peoples, affected individuals, international and regional bodies, NHRIs, lawyers, and academia will participate in the UN South Asia Forum.

Forum Format

The 2nd UN South Asia Forum will be organised over 3 days, with the first day devoted to providing safe space to various stakeholders to facilitate conversations under the Chatham House Rule. The organisers aim to hold dedicated sessions for CSOs, businesses and NHRIs. In addition, there will be some space and opportunities for external partners to organise side events, workshops, consultations or meetings during the Forum.