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Wednesday, November 27 • 11:45 - 13:00
Regional dialogue: lessons learned, challenges, innovation - Asia. Part II. Impact of inbound and outbound investment on human rights in South and Southeast Asia

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Session organized by the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights and UNDP Business and Human Rights in Asia Programme

Background
In Asia, governments are increasingly embarking on efforts to implement the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs). In the last year alone, countries such as Bangladesh, India, Nepal, and Pakistan are following in the footsteps of Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia, and developing National Action Plans (NAPs) or other policy frameworks on business and human rights, involving multi-stakeholders consultations. The Thai government approved its NAP in in October 2019, while South Korea included in 2018 a chapter on business and human rights in its National Action Plan on Human Rights. In early 2019, India released a zero draft of its NAP. Japan aims to adopt a NAP by June 2020.

While drafting of NAPs remains a key signal of commitment to implement the UNGPs, evidence exists to show that the discussion around responsible business conduct has progressed beyond governments agreeing to draft action plans. With growing awareness about the human rights responsibility of business enterprises, there has been an increasing scrutiny of the impact of inbound and outbound investments on human rights of individuals and communities by national human rights institutions (NHRIs), civil society organisations (CSOs), human rights defenders, trade unions, scholars and the media. The adverse impacts on the rights of specific groups such as children, women, migrant workers and indigenous peoples have also attracted attention.

Against this background, this two-part session will provide an opportunity to assess the progress made, challenges faced, and further opportunities available in the implementation of the UNGPs in Asia. By brining together government officials, NHRIs, CSOs and companies from countries across Asia, this interactive session will also facilitate peer learning and reinforce a race to the top in Asia. Efforts will be made to provide adequate space for questions and comments from the floor.


Impact of inbound and outbound investment on human rights in South and Southeast Asia
In South and Southeast Asia, foreign direct investment (FDI) has been a critical factor in achieving high rates of economic growth and lifting rates of formal-employment as well as household incomes. However, FDI – especially in certain circumstances such as natural resource extraction, plantations, energy projects, mega-infrastructure projects, and special economic zones (SEZs) – has also been implicated in a long and well-documented list of adverse human rights impacts including labor rights abuses, land grabbing, displacement of Indigenous Peoples, environmental pollution, and gender discrimination.

In recent years, South and Southeast Asian companies and financial institutions have grown considerably in profitability and capital accumulation and now seek new investment opportunities within the region. Increasing rates of outbound investment from certain Asian countries may present new risks to human rights in host countries.

This part of the session will broadly focus on two aspects. First, it will explore adverse human rights impacts of both inbound and outbound investments of companies and state-owned enterprises domiciled in Asia. Discussants will present case studies involving SEZs and mega-infrastructure projects as these have become emblematic of the risks of FDI to human rights in the region. Second, it will explore the role of the UNGPs, alongside national laws and regulations, in mitigating risks and remedying adverse human rights impacts of inbound and outbound investments.

Discussants in this part of the session will in particular consider adverse impacts on labor rights, land grabbing and gender discrimination. They will also address the role of NAPs in ensuring that inbound as well as outbound investment is aligned with the UNGPs, the practical steps that States could take to ensure greater policy coherence between their human rights obligations and efforts to create or maintain an investment-friendly environment, and the strategies that could be used to provides access to remedy in cases with a cross-border or transnational dimension.

Moderators
avatar for Sean Lees

Sean Lees

Business and Human Rights Specialist, UNDP Asia-Pacific
Sean Lees is a Business and Human Rights Specialist at the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Bangkok Regional Hub. Prior to his work at UNDP, Sean worked on Asia-Pacific trade and investment policy at the Pacific Basin Economic Council and the East-West Center (1994-1996... Read More →
RO

Rosanna Ocampo

Senior Programme Officer, UN Advocacy, Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA)
Rosanna Ocampo is Senior Programme Officer for the UN Advocacy Programme of Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA), a network of 81 member organisations in 21 countries across Asia. Rosanna has worked for FORUM-ASIA since June 2016 in Bangkok and Geneva, and is... Read More →

Speakers
avatar for Anirudha Nagar

Anirudha Nagar

Communities Director, Accountability Counsel
Anirudha Nagar is the Director of Accountability Counsel's Communities program, working to assist communities to defend their environmental and human rights, and have their voices heard by the financiers of development projects. He is supporting Indigenous communities across Asia... Read More →
avatar for Sor.Rattanamanee Polkla

Sor.Rattanamanee Polkla

Executive Coordinator, Lawyer, Community Resource Centre Foundation
Sor.Rattanamanee Polkla’s career spans the past twenty years of public interest lawyering in Thailand, and she has been involved in many of its most significant recent cases. After working for years as an independent public interest lawyer, in 2010 she co-founded with Prashant Singh... Read More →
avatar for Han Dongfang

Han Dongfang

Founder, China Labour Bulletin
Han Dongfang (韩东方) is the Executive Director of China Labour Bulletin (CLB), a labour rights organization based in Hong Kong. He has been a leading advocate for workers rights in China for three decades.In 1994, he founded China Labour Bulletin in Hong Kong. During the past... Read More →
JC

Joan Carling

co-convenor, Indigenous Peoples Major Group for Sustainable Development-IPMG
I am an indigenous activist for more than 30 years working on human rights and indigenous peoples rights including in relation to business operations. I am now focusing on the linkages of human rights with the SDGs and the IPMG has initiated the Right Energy Partnership- a rights-based... Read More →
avatar for Kamal Uddin Ahmed

Kamal Uddin Ahmed

Commissioner, NHRC Bangladesh
avatar for Marzuki Darusman

Marzuki Darusman

Chairperson, The Foundation for International Human Rights Reporting Standards and the Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar
Together with James Kallman and other internationally-respected human rights advocates, Mr. Darusman established the Foundation For International Human Rights Reporting Standards (“FIHRRST”), a non-profit that targets the advancement of human rights in all areas. As Chair, he... Read More →


Wednesday November 27, 2019 11:45 - 13:00 CET
Room XIX