For further information on the UN Forum on Business and Human Rights please visit https://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Business/Forum/Pages/2019ForumBHR.aspx

For further information on the work of the Working Group on Business and Human Rights please visit https://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Business/Pages/WGHRandtransnationalcorporationsandotherbusiness.aspx 
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Monday, November 25 • 11:30 - 13:00
Stepping up government leadership: from commitments to action

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Interpretation provided in English, French, Spanish, Arabic, Russian and Chinese

High-level plenary: focus
As the central focus of the 2019 Forum is to reinforce the call on governments for action on business and human rights, the Working Group on Business and Human Rights that chairs the Forum is convening a high-level panel involving governments from different regions to hear the perspectives of government leaders on the way forward. This plenary session addresses the Forum's theme on government action and leadership, with the title “Stepping up government leadership: from commitments to action”.

The first part involves panel interventions and discussion moderated by the Working Group. After the initial panel conversation, the moderator will open up the floor to other participants, allowing for:
  • Questions and answers
  • Brief comments from governments and other stakeholders to share their reflections on lessons learned and concrete ways forward (reading from statements is not encouraged). Comments should be limited to 1-2 minutes.
Participants wishing to take part in the discussion should raise their hand or country plate (for government delegations). Interventions from the floor are managed at the discretion of the moderator and subject to time available.

Questions to the panel can also be submitted via an online platform (details given on the screen during the session).

Written statements for online posting can be sent to forumbhr@ohchr.org.

A key message from the 2018 UN Forum on Business and Human Rights was that governments must step up their action and leadership. Currently, they are not doing enough to meet their duty to protect against business-related human rights abuse. While important legal developments are evolving in some jurisdictions, and the number of countries developing national action plans on business and human rights continue to grow, the effectiveness of current efforts and the lack of wider action are being called into question.

The lack of government leadership, reflected in governance gaps and a lack of policy coherence at all levels – national, regional and global – remains a fundamental challenge to ensuring that the human rights and dignity of all are upheld in the context of business activities. These gaps have been a recurrent theme at all Forums since the first edition in 2012, and a key reason for the development of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, which provide the main reference for Forum discussions.

At the Forum, civil society organizations, affected stakeholders and business alike have called on States to step up action, through strengthened regulation, improved policy coherence, and through leading by example in the various roles States have as economic actors.

The 2019 Forum will focus on the need for all governments to demonstrate progress, commitments and plans in implementing the State duty to protect and strengthening accountability. As the Guiding Principles clarify, ensuring access to effective remedy is also a part of the State duty to protect against business-related human rights abuse, and discussions on government action need to address the full spectrum of measures from prevention to remediation.

The Forum agenda will look at what governments need to do to foster business respect for human rights, including by getting their own house in order and by setting clear expectations and creating incentives for responsible business conduct. In doing so, the agenda will consider the Guiding Principles’ call for “a smart mix of measures – national and international, mandatory and voluntary – to foster business respect for human rights” and what this can mean in practice.

avatar for Githu Muigai

Githu Muigai

Vice-Chairperson, UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights

avatar for Anna Hallberg

Anna Hallberg

Minister for Foreign Trade, Government of Sweden
avatar for Wisit Wisitsora-At

Wisit Wisitsora-At

Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Justice of Thailand
Professor Wisit Wisitsora-at has a distinguished track record within the civil and criminal justice sphere in Thailand and internationally. He has been serving as the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Justice of Thailand since 2017. He is also the Chairperson of the Executive... Read More →
avatar for Johanna Sumuvuori

Johanna Sumuvuori

Vice-Minister, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Finland
Finland represents the presidency of the Council of the European Union from 1 July to 31 December 2019.Johanna Sumuvuori was appointed as State Secretary to the Minister for Foreign Affairs Pekka Haavisto on 4 July 2019.As a State Secretary she assists the minister in matters relating... Read More →

Monday November 25, 2019 11:30 - 13:00 CET
Room XX