Human Rights Due Diligence South Asia Forum on Business and Human Rights

11-04-2022


amfori hosted a session on Human Rights Due Diligence within the 2022 UN South Asia Forum on Business and Human Rights

There are a growing number of countries passing legislation to translate responsible business conduct expectations into hard laws. Whilst many laws are yet to become effective, they are already having an impact on global trade today. Countries are gearing up with their commitments to the United Nation’s Guiding Principles. National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights have already been formally adopted by Pakistan whilst India is likely to adopt its NAP in 2022 and Nepal has formally committed to developing a NAP. 

On 23rd March amfori conducted a side session “HRDD: The Changing Landscape for Business and Trade in South Asia” which occur within the framework of the 2022 UN South Asia Forum on Business and Human Rights. The session included business and human rights experts from across India and Europe.

Ms. Linda Kromjong, President of amfori, opened the session where she reinforced the need for continuous work in business and human rights. It is critical that we continue to exchange views in order to ensure that we are all contributing to a better life and livelihood for everyone and that we are active in preventing, mitigating, and remediating any business-related human rights abuses, as well as advancing the decent work agenda in South Asia.

The session proceeded to a two-part panel discussion between experts. In the first part, Ms. Dorothy Lovell, Policy Advisor Responsible Business Conduct, OECD and Mr. Viraf Mehta, Advisor Partners-in-Change exchanged their perspectives on what does mHRDD mean to countries in South Asia. Both agreed that companies need to do more to respond to the rapidly changing mHRDD landscape to leverage them as competitive advantage. Mr. Viraf Mehta stated, “Many of our south Asian countries' businesses need to improve their skills and awareness of what human rights are and are not, as well as what they are clearly required to do.”

Ms. Dorothy Lovell expressed her views on mHRDD legislation “The landscape is definitely changing, and it is safe to assume that there will be a huge impact across global supply chains. Governments are also using investment strategies to enhance and promote due diligence which has the potential to leverage human rights due diligence and responsible business conduct.”

In the second part of the panel discussion, two representatives from Industry Associations: Mr Pranav Kumar, Chief International Trade Policy, Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and Mr. Indras Ghosh, Acting Head Sustainability Projects, Indo-German Chamber of Commerce looked at the impact of mHRDD on businesses. Mr Pranav Kumar stated, In India, the ecosystem is still evolving, and multiple studies have suggested that companies are on track where HRDD are concerned however it is important to understand that in India particularly considering the size, diversity and businesses that fall in the informal sector, the protection of human rights across the value chain is a challenging task for the government.”

Mr Indras Ghosh shared his perspective on how companies can benefit from mHRDD development across the world “Supply chain due diligence will create a business environment in which buyers and suppliers will need to develop a much closer relationship in the supply chain. Businesses will also need to come together based on shared responsibility to uphold human rights in economic activities, and if we achieve that, I believe we will see a much more integrated global value change that will be more resilient.”

The session was moderated by Ms. Natasha Majumdar, amfori Network Representative India, in her summarising remarks, she stated “The UNDP's political momentum has resulted in the gradual integration of elements of responsible business conduct due diligence into policy and legal frameworks for responsible business. In the light of heightened attention to business-related human rights risks and repercussions, respecting human rights has been recognised as critical to achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.”