Government Action in South Asia: Developing and Moving Beyond NAPs
Unanimously endorsed by the Human Rights Council in June 2011, the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs) are a set of 31 Principles that serve as a blueprint to promote business respect for human rights. As a first step toward implementing the UNGPs, States continue to adopt National Action Plans on Business and Human Rights (NAPs). In Asia, this Thailand, Japan and Pakistan have already adopted NAPs. In South Asia, India, Nepal and the Maldives are developing or expected to adopt their NAPs soon. In addition, some South Asian countries have started to introduce legislation relating to business and human rights such as in India, where corporate sustainability reporting obligations have been established.
These important but timid steps indicate that the South Asia region is slowly starting to catch up with policy developments on business and human rights that can be observed in other parts of the world. While the move towards NAPs serves as a first step in identifying and operationalizing government priorities, achieving meaningful progress for rights holders will require meaningful stakeholder engagement and consultation to ensure that NAPs speak to conditions on the ground. Moreover, NAPs are not an end in itself, but a means through which governments can strategize how to protect against business-related human rights abuse by improving and reforming legal frameworks, creating incentives and disincentives for business to respect human rights, building capacities on business and human rights and, last but not least, enforcing existing laws and obligations.
In this context, the 4th South Asia Forum on Business and Human Rights provides an opportune moment to assess government action on business and human rights in the subregion.
The session seeks to assess government progress and challenges in implementing the UNGPs in South Asia, discuss the value of meaningful stakeholder engagement and inclusion and discuss ongoing NAP processes in this respect. The session will also look ahead and evaluate how governments and other stakeholders can promote business respect for human rights beyond NAPs in the foreseeable future.
To assess progress on government action on business and human rights in South Asia
Identify key developments and trends related to government action and enable stakeholders to anticipate and influence government actions
Facilitate peer-learning among South Asian governments
Panelists will reflect on the following questions:
What progress have governments made in respect of policies, laws and regulations aimed at promoting greater business respect for human rights?
What challenges will governments face in the coming year(s) in implementing the UNGPs and responding to global regulatory initiatives on business and human rights?
What are the implications of these developments for stakeholders, including the business sector and civil society?
To what extent are ongoing NAP processes in South Asia meaningfully consulting with rights holders and other stakeholders?
Samad Aftab, UNDP Pakistan
Khaola Batool, Ministry of Human Rights, Islamic Republic of Pakistan
Wasantha Perera, Ministry of Justice, Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka
Phanindra Gautam, Ministry of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs, Government of Nepal
Mohammad Monir Hossain Hawalder, Ministry of Commerce, Government of Bangladesh