SAFE SPACE SESSION
Facilitating Access to Remedy for Workers through National Human Rights Institutions
By invite only
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National human rights institutions (NHRIs), as state-mandated bodies with broad constitutional or legal mandates to promote and protect human rights, can play a significant role in the implementation of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs). The Edinburgh Declaration (2010), adopted during the 10th International Conference of NHRIs, emphasizes the critical role of NHRIs in addressing corporate-related human rights challenges at international, regional, and national levels. The essential role of NHRIs in business and human rights is also recognized in the UNGPs.
This year, the 4th UN South Asia Forum on Business and Human Rights will bring attention to the workers – both domestic (in their country of origin) and international (in a country of destination) – fueling development in Asia and the role States and businesses must play to protect and respect workers' rights based on the "Protect, Respect and Remedy" framework of the UNGPs. In particular, the Forum will focus on four sub-thematic issues concerning workers in South Asia, namely: (1) migration, (2) informal and contract/gig workers, (3) just transitions, and (4) supply chains and legislative initiatives on business and human rights.
Access to remedy is a crucial element in protecting workers' rights. During the 47th session of the UN Human Rights Council, the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights (UNWG) outlined various (direct, indirect, and foundational) means by which NHRIs could facilitate access to redress business-related human rights abuses. In addition, it emphasized the importance of NHRIs in three illustrative areas: collaboration with other judicial and non-judicial remedy mechanisms, cooperation among NHRIs in cross-border and transnational cases, and protection of civil society organizations and human rights defenders. In addition, because NHRIs can only facilitate access to redress within a broader human rights landscape at the national, regional, and international levels, the UNWG also elaborated a more holistic role for NHRIs in the business and human rights field.
The safe space session for NHRIs during the 3rd UN South Asia Forum on Business and Human Rights in 2022 identified lessons learned on how NHRIs can effectively engage with stakeholders and perform their roles in developing and implementing national action plans led by governments. Building on last year's discussion, this year's safe space session for NHRIs will specifically focus on how NHRIs could better facilitate access to remedy for business-related human rights abuses.
The session is a closed-door meeting among representatives of NHRIs. NHRIs representatives from South Asia will share lessons learned over the last year. The main focus of discussion will be on how NHRIs can effectively facilitate access to remedy for workers. In line with the UNWG's recommendations on the role of NHRIs in facilitating access to remedy for business-related human rights abuses, three main focus areas in the context of South Asia will be discussed: (1) collaboration with other judicial and non-judicial remedy mechanisms, (2) cooperation amongst NHRIs in cross-border and transnational cases, and (3) protecting civil society organizations and human rights defenders.
The key objectives of this session are to:
Understand the role of NHRIs in facilitating access to remedy for workers when business-related abuses occur
Share experience and lessons learned among NHRIs and exchange solutions in facilitating access to remedy for workers
Promote peer learning and South-South cooperation among NHRIs in South Asia
NHRIs participants will discuss the following questions:
What roles do NHRIs play in facilitating workers' access to remedy when business-related abuses occur in South Asia?
How could South Asian NHRIs collaborate more effectively with other judicial and non-judicial remedy mechanisms? What are the obstacles encountered, the lessons learned, and the best practices?
How could South Asian NHRIs work together when business-related human rights abuses occur in transnational and cross-border cases?
How could South Asian NHRIs better protect human rights defenders and civil society organisations promoting workers' rights?
 See Forum’s concept note at https://www.safbhr.com/conceptnote
 See https://documents-dds-ny.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/G21/161/50/PDF/G2116150.pdf?OpenElement