During 27-29 November, over 2,500 participants from governmental bodies, NGOs, and the private sector attended the sixth UN Annual Forum on Business and Human Rights in Geneva, unpacking critical issues concerning this year’s theme ‘Realising Access to Effective Remedy.’
There was an overarching sentiment that more needs to be done by states and businesses around the third pillar of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs) on access to effective remedy. The conference offered FTA the opportunity to present good practices from members and stress the importance of partnerships and collaboration through two panel sessions:
The first session entitled, ‘How can MNEs use their leverage to help enable remediation by their business partners?’, organised in cooperation with the International Organization of Employers (IOE), addressed the responsibility of all companies to respect human rights, regardless of their size. They concluded that multinational enterprises can help play an important role in exercising leverage to affect change in the supply chain and to prevent, mitigate and remediate human rights violations.
The second session, ‘A shared responsibility – Role of business associations on joint remediation and multi-stakeholder collaboration’, in partnership with Consumer Goods Forum and the International Organization for Migration (IOM), focused on how business associations facilitate collaboration between different actors to promote good working conditions and provide effective remediation.
“Given the influence and impact that business coalitions have, there is a significant role for corporate leaders to champion reform and action in this area. Working in partnership with other businesses, NGOs, UN agencies or government is instrumental in supporting a company to improve the way they conduct their business,” said FTA Director General, Christian Ewert.
Other topics covered
At the conference, experts also discussed the state of play and remaining gaps around different forms of remedy needed to achieve sustainable supply chains including: judicial (legally binding frameworks), non-judicial mechanisms such as the role of the National Action Plans (NAPs); and operational mechanisms and the role of businesses and associations. Close attention was placed on issues such as gender equality, living wage, forced labour, child labour and labour exploitation of migrant workers.