TUESDAY | 29 MARCH
All times listed in Bangladesh Standard Time (GMT+6)
High-Level Opening Plenary | Business and Human Rights in Asia: Where Are We Heading
The Opening Plenary Session will commence by outlining the current state of business and human rights discourse in South Asia. The discussion will highlight key challenges and opportunities in driving better outcomes across the sub-region, drawing on the findings from the five Country Sessions (Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka) before the Forum on the 23rd and 24th of March. The session will feature key stakeholders from the region, including governments, elaborating their plans and aspirations to move the needle on business and human rights in the year(s) to come.
Remedying Human Rights Abuses in South Asia: Knocking on Doors Beyond the Region
To guide stakeholders in their quest to advance access to remedy in South Asia, the session will provide a brief recap on the different types of grievance mechanisms and remedies, as well as what attributes are required for them to be effective in terms of process and outcome, including integrating a gender perspective. Panelists will briefly reflect on the current situation in South Asia, discuss to what extent different mechanisms and remedies are available, and identify the most pertinent obstacles towards obtaining effective remedy. Once participants have a general overview of the current state of remedy in South Asia, panelists shed a light on specific cases where rights holders have attempted seek remedy beyond South Asian borders and jurisdictions.
Human Rights Due Diligence: Shifting the Business Environment in South Asia
The session will provide a brief overview of the expectation on businesses to conduct HRDD in line with the UNGPs and other international instruments to discharge their responsibility to respect human rights. Panellists will then reflect on how recent legislative developments concerning HRDD in Europe might impact the business environment in South Asia. Once participants have a better understanding of these concepts and trends, the session would allow them to consider whether current business practices in South Asia are in line with the UNGPs and HRDD legislation adopted or being developed in Europe and elsewhere; how businesses can address gaps in upholding their responsibility to respect human rights; how governments can provide support to businesses (especially MSMEs) in conducting HRDD in a meaningful way as well as respond to legislative trends on HRDD; and how trade unions and civil society actors can participate in and leverage HRDD processes.
Occupational Safety and Health in the Post COVID-19 World
The global pandemic of COVID-19 increased employers’ and workers’ attention to safety and health in the workplace for protecting workers’ rights and business continuity. Relevant national policy and strategies have been issued and implemented to tackle the pandemic. Despite significant challenges, many workplaces have stayed resilient and taken proactive steps in responding to the needs of business and human rights. Human-centred occupational safety and health (OSH) management systems with active worker participation have been pursued at.
ILO is now discussing if OSH should be added to Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work (FPRW). This would provide an important implication onto Business and Human Rights, for example to buyers’ codes of conduct. In fact, many workers in South Asia still belong to the informal economy and the rural sector. They are often outside the scope of national OSH systems and receive limited OSH services and protection. It is important to discuss how the post-COVID-19 world can address the disproportionate progress in OSH and extend practical OSH measures as an integral part of FPRW to all economic sectors including disadvantageous groups of workers.
The proposed session on OSH aims to exchange experiences at both policy and workplace levels, discuss roles of ILO OSH standards and its interlinkages with the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs) and promote practical OSH measures towards the post-Covid-19 world of work. The proper action taken will strengthen Business and Human Rights, while providing safe and healthy working environments to workers and increasing industrial production.
WEDNESDAY | 30 MARCH
Informal Economy: Pathways to Promote Responsible Business
The session aims to shed a light on the relatively under-explored issue of informality and highlight the complex nature of business and human rights issues associated with informality in South Asia. The purpose of the discussion is to explore different strategies to address human rights issues in the informal economy across all three pillars of the UNGPs. To inform relevant policy and legal development across the subregion, panellists will discuss the importance as well as challenges related to formalisation processes of enterprises as well as workers, the expansion of social protections to informal workers, as well as other potential short- and medium-term solutions. The panelists will discuss how emerging challenges or developments such as climate change and the need for a just transition, automation, digitisation, the rise of the gig economy, the emergence of mandatory human rights due diligence laws in Europe, and the potential changes in supply chains by brands might impact the rights of workers in the informal economy.
For People and Planet: Centering Rights Holders in Climate Action
Considering the devastating impacts which climate change is already causing and bound to cause, it is of utmost importance that States and businesses take meaningful climate action. In this context, the session will deal with the question of how States and businesses can ensure that business-related climate action does not come at the expense of human rights. The session will commence with a discussion on whether business-related climate change action and finance in South Asia sufficiently integrates the concepts of climate justice and a just transition. Building on the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs), panelists will outline concrete measures to integrate these concepts into South Asian climate action strategies, including those related to climate adapation and mitigation. Finally, the session will conclude with a discussion of what challenges need to be overcome to integrate business and human rights and climate change agendas meaningfully.
Connecting the Dots: Building Momentum for Bottom-Up Action
The session will showcase innovative bottom-up initiatives through which a wide range of civil society actors have demanded business respect for human rights and corporate accountability. Panellists will also reflect on the yet untapped potential of these actors and the tools at their disposal, and stimulate participants to consider innovative ways of initiating broader societal engagement and moving the needle on business and human rights in South Asia.
Harnessing Trade and Investment for Responsible Business and Sustainable Development
This session will explore efforts to foster synergies between, on the one hand, trade and investment and, on the other, sustainable development and responsible business. By drawing on key trade and investment issues, the session seeks to provide participants with an understanding of how trade and investment issues can impact the social and environmental performance of South Asian countries. As such, the session will provide a broad picture of how to foster synergies between responsible business and international trade and investment, showcase good practices and discuss gaps South Asia.
MONDAY | 28 MARCH
SAFE SPACE SESSIONS and COUNTRY SESSION
Safe Space Session: A Dialogue with Trade Unions
Closed session, by invite only
Safe Space Session: Peer Learning among National Human Rights Institutions
Closed session, by invite only
Safe Space Session: A Dialogue with Human Rights Defenders and Civil Society Organizations
Closed session, by invite only
Bangladesh Country Session
A roundtable dialogue among speakers will bring insights on the role of different stakeholders in promoting a responsible business environment for the sustainable LDC graduation of Bangladesh. The discussion will outline progress, challenges, and opportunities for Bangladesh to strengthen its partnership and multi-stakeholder approaches toward just, resilient, and sustainable development respecting people and the planet. The Session will invite speakers from academia, CSOs, businesses, Government, trade unions elaborating ways forward to amplifying responsible business practices in Bangladesh in the year(s) to come.
Safe Space Session: A Dialogue with Business and Employers' Organizations
Closed session, by invite only
WEDNESDAY | 23 MARCH
SIDE SESSIONS and COUNTRY SESSIONS
Nepal Country Session
The Nepal Country Session will assess the progress business and human rights discourse in Nepal, and focus on the approaches to ensure the NAP development processes are truly meaningful, inclusive and participatory. The Session will feature a panel discussion with speakers from diverse sectors, who will bring attention to the challenges and opportunities in promoting the business and human rights discourse in the country. The inputs provided during the Session will be collected and submitted to the MoLESS for reflecting those to ' 'Nepal's NAP.
India Country Session
The session brings insight into the varied roles and potential of these distinct constituencies to prevent business-related human rights abuses and influence, implement and enable the full realization of human rights. The Session will also discuss partnership approaches to build a robust and well-connected ecosystem that mainstreams, enable, and holds businesses accountable for upholding human rights through their daily run and growth plans.
Fighting Forced Labor and Modern Slavery with Minor Ethnic Communities in South Asia
Hosted by Traidcraft
TX is proposing to participate in the forum through arranging a side event. The flow of the event will be as follows:
TX will share the current situation of forced and bonded labour in their intervened areas before and after the execution of the project. TX also plans to highlight areas in which social mobilisation has been successfully implemented by ensuring protection and presentation of rights for affected Adivasi communities.
TX will assess policy and governance issues, identify gaps and suggest reforms with respect to access of Adivasi peoples of Bangladesh to rights and entitlements, particularly in terms of basic public services in association with a Human Rights Specialist and accumulate findings in a Policy Paper format for knowledge dissemination. TX plans to inaugurate and present the paper in this forum.
TX will share ‘even better if’ situational requirements based on the findings from our ongoing MUKTEE project review reports.
Promoting Business and Human Rights in south Asia's Small-Scale Fisheries:
Opportunities for Sub-Regional, Multi-Stakeholder Cooperation
Hosted by TROSA-OXFAM
This session will highlight business-related human rights issues in small-scale fisheries and identify ways more responsible and inclusive business practices could be promoted through multi-stakeholder partnerships at the local, national and regional levels. The session content will build on some of the field-level experience of Oxfam and partners engaged in the analysis and advocacy on inclusive fisheries in Bangladesh and India. Insights from participatory processes like Hilsa Watch and Nodi Boithaks (River Meetings) will be shared. Local SSF communities from Bangladesh and India, including women members, will share their experience in this session.
THURSDAY | 24 MARCH
SIDE SESSIONS and COUNTRY SESSIONS
Sri Lanka Country Session
The Country Session will assess the progress of business and human rights discourse in Sri Lanka. The discussion will highlight key challenges and opportunities to implement the UNGPs and promote the progress of business and human rights by connecting different actors and initiatives. The Session will feature a panel discussion with speakers from diverse sectors. Participants of the Session will also have a chance to share their views interactively and identify progress, challenges, and needs in moving business and human rights agendas forward. The inputs provided during the Session will inform UNDP Sri Lanka Country Office and other relevant stakeholders for further programming and setting directions for driving the progress of business and human rights in Sri Lanka.
Pakistan Country Session
The Country Session will focus on the roles of different stakeholders in informing the progress of business and human rights in Pakistan. The discussion will highlight progress, challenges, and opportunities for implementation of the NAP in Pakistan. In addition, the Session will assess how Pakistan can build a strong ecosystem to move forward human rights agendas under multi-stakeholder approaches. The inputs provided during the Session will inform UNDP Pakistan Country Office, the Government of Pakistan, the private sector, National Human Rights Institutions, civil society, and other relevant stakeholders on their individual and collaborative roles in setting the direction and driving the progress of business and human rights in Pakistan.
Walking the Talk: Stories of Collaboration for India's Informal Workers
Hosted by Dasra
This session will showcase the stories and journeys of India’s majority workforce. Social Compact and UN South Asia Forum bring together diverse stakeholders from the community, industry, NGOs, international agencies, and philanthropy – these conversations will focus on building a responsive ecosystem at source and destination, for our informal and migrant workers, by leveraging business and CSR capital.
Children in the Digital Era: Role of Businesses to Support and Respect their Rights
Hosted by UNICEF
The key objectives of this session is to convene key experts and influencers from Digital Learning, Child Protection and Business sectors from Bangladesh and other South Asian countries to share their insights and experiences from their respective sectors on how we can together address some of the key digital learning and child online safety issues, with a particular focus on South Asia and propose concrete recommendations to address key the gaps and barriers for a scaled and sustainable approach to address child online protection of children and adolescents.
FRIDAY | 25 MARCH
Power Imbalances in Global Supply Chain: The Need for Social Dialogue
Hosted by FairWear
The pandemic has had an enormous impact on the garment industry. The realisation of strong power
dynamics in the industry came to the fore soon after the world was affected by the first wave of Covid-
19. Workers’ rights have come under even more pressure than before. Workers were not paid or paid
less during the lockdown times or sudden order cancellations mails came from brands to suppliers due
to the uncertainty of business during corona. The imbalance between several crucial players of the
industry was not unknown earlier but the brunt was faced by those with less power vis-à-vis other in the
same value chain.
Collapse of the Business-State Conflict of Interest Mechanisms:
Challenge to the Business and Human Rights Paradigm
Hosted by Partners in Change-India
The Session brings insight into the various instances of conflict of interest, which has impacted the realization of business and human rights. Focusing on issues of obligations as part of international conventions, monitoring of policies and legislation and international trade, the session will discuss on the dichotomy between practices and policy commitment and how that impacts the human rights of individuals.
Sustainable Practises, Rights & Safety in Construction in Bangladesh: A Multi-Stakeholder Perspective
Hosted by Elite Group-Bangladesh
While the Bangladesh Institute of Labour Studies (BILS) reported a total of 1,196 deaths in the construction industry between 2005 and 2016 or about 100 fatalities every year on average, weak data collection has been unable to capture the evolution of construction safety standards in today’s fast developing Bangladesh.
We seek to share diverse multi-stakeholder perspectives across public infrastructure development and private sector developers, construction material suppliers, government engineers, site workers and more!
Solutions to Address Social Conditions in the Leather-Based Garment Supply Chain
Hosted by SOMO
In this side session to the 2022 UN South Asia Forum on Business and Human Rights, the Together for Decent Leather consortium brings to light new research findings on the labour rights risks and challenges at play in the leather-based garment industry. Research in leather product production hubs in South Asia, in particular in Vellore and Chennai districts in Tamil Nadu, India; greater Karachi in Pakistan; and the greater Dhaka region in Bangladesh, has revealed that abuse of vulnerable workers continues to be a problematic key feature in the leather-based garment supply chains in Bangladesh, India and Pakistan. During the session, the consortium will discuss the most vulnerable worker groups in the leather garment and footwear sector, the key risks of labour rights abuses they face, who is responsible for solving the problems and what should be done.
HRDD: Integral to Business and Trade in South Asia
Session hosted by amfori
The session will explore the repercussions that HRDD could have on global trade, mix of policy measures governments can use to meet their state duty to protect human rights, business responses to the due diligence frameworks and the rising expectations from stakeholders, tools and initiatives for businesses to meet their responsibility to respect human rights and remain competitive.
Indigenous Voices: Transforming Business Operations in Indigenous Territories
Session hosted by Indigenous Peoples Rights International (IPRI) and Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP)
The session will take the form of a moderated two-panel discussion with one panel composed of indigenous leaders from grassroots organizations to share on their communities’ narratives in relation to business activities in their territories and ways to address their concerns in line with the UNGPs. These business activities are coal mining, Palm oil and Dams and transmission lines. The other panel will be reactors composed of representatives of other stakeholders-- National Human Rights Institution, UN agencies, and government bodies who will share their perspective in strengthening the implementation of the UNGP in relation to indigenous peoples in South Asia. There will be time allocated for Q and A with participants.
IPRI will also present briefly its video on Indigenous Peoples and key highlights of its report on the UNGP’s Decade of Implementation: Progress Achieved, Gaps, and Challenges and Recommendations for the Next Decade.
Reimagining the Return and Reintegration of Migrant Workers in South Asia: A Business and Human Rights Perspective in the Context of COVID-19
Hosted by IOM-India and ILO-India
Corporate Capture in South Asia: Cases of Resistance by Peoples’ Movements and Recommendations for a UN Binding Treaty to Regulate Corporate Activity
Hosted by ESCR-Net and Citizen News Service
In this session, several members of ESCR-Net, who are currently resisting corporate abuses or violations, will share their experiences on panel. They will share their thoughts on actions that must be taken to better protect human rights in the face of business. We envision the session will take around 90 minutes allowing for interaction and different opinions to be heard.
Addressing Human Rights Challenges through Collective Action in South Asia
Hosted by International Organisation of Employers (IOE)
Under the theme of collective action, peer learning and exchanges will take place during the 90-minute side session on business and human rights’ best practices in South Asia. Together, participants will identify common and practical ways to improve and implement the Business and Human Rights agenda.