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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Tuesday, November 26 • 09:00 - 10:15
Minding the governance gap: Can we rely on private standard-setting initiatives as methods for prevention, remediation and accountability?

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Session organized by the Institute for Multi-Stakeholder Initiative Integrity (MSI Integrity)

Webcast of the session:
Meeting link
Meeting number: 840 079 851
Password: rBEJX7Zh

Description of the session:
Private standard-setting initiatives, such as multi-stakeholder initiatives and corporate/industry codes of conduct now exist in every major global industry. However, the rise of these new “regulatory” bodies in filling governance gaps has begun to pose difficult questions about the appropriate role and response of governments and corporations: Does the existence of these initiatives mean that governments do not need to monitor or regulate the issues the initiatives address? Can corporations and governments rely on private initiatives to effectively close governance gaps and, if so, how should they determine which initiatives are successfully preventing abuses? What do the concerns expressed by Dutch Council of State earlier this year -- that the Dutch government’s practice of convening multi-stakeholder groups to reach agreements on environmental and social issues may be an abrogation of the government’s legislative role and duties -- mean for the future of multi-stakeholder processes and initiatives?
This session will interactively explore new lessons learned about whether, and under what conditions, private governance initiatives can successfully support the State duty to protect human rights; the value of affected community participation; and the democratic accountability of such initiatives. The session will analyse the qualities of initiatives that have worked, including those based on the Worker-driven Social Responsibility (WSR) model, which has been uniquely effective in addressing some of the most egregious and longstanding abuses in global supply chains.

Session Objectives: 
  • To identify key qualities for initiatives that aim to close governance gaps and to protect, respect and remedy human rights;
  • To explore the appropriate role for private standard-setting initiatives, and whether or how governments and businesses should rely upon them in their National Action Plans or business and human rights strategies;
  • To explore new research, evidence and experiences about the effectiveness of standard-setting initiatives;
  • To examine new approaches (such as third-party beneficiary enforceability and the expansion of the Worker-driven Social Responsibility (WSR) model) and ideas for harnessing existing initiatives to ensure the protection of, and respect for, human rights.

Key discussion questions:
  • Can governments and corporations rely on private standard-setting initiatives as methods for prevention, remediation and accountability when considering their duty to protect? If so, what qualities should they look to?
  • Have initiatives been successful in detecting abuses, providing remedy to rights-holders or holding wrongdoers to account? What new evidence and research has emerged around this in the last few years?
  • How can the thousands of different initiatives that now exist be best used to ensure the protection of human rights? What functions and roles have private standard-setting initiatives proved effective at fulfilling?

Format of the session:
Roundtable with an emphasis on interactive audience engagement. Depending on room allocation, this may include break out groups/themed discussions – with some being led by additional individuals from different expertise/stakeholder groups than those listed above.

avatar for Joseph Wilde-Ramsing

Joseph Wilde-Ramsing

Senior Researcher, Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations (SOMO) and OECD Watch
Senior Researcher, SOMO, and Coordinator, OECD Watch networkDr. Joseph Wilde-Ramsing, Ph.D., was born in Wilmington, North Carolina (USA). In 2001, Joseph graduated from the University of North Carolina with two Bachelor’s degrees in political science and Spanish, both with honors... Read More →

avatar for Charity Ryerson

Charity Ryerson

Co-founder and Legal Director, Corporate Accountability Lab
Human rights litigation strategy, access to remedy, transitional justice, legal design and design thinking

Kalpona Akter

Bangladesh Centre for Worker Solidarity
avatar for Amelia Evans

Amelia Evans

Executive Director, Institute for Multi-Stakeholder Initiative Integrity
MSI Integrity has a major report on standard-setting multi-stakeholder initiatives forthcoming in January 2020. Happy to talk to people about this research, or our future working on "challenging the corporate form". @AmeliaEvans2019

Sarah Newell

Director of Outreach and Communications, Worker-driven Social Responsibility Network
avatar for Mariette van Huijstee

Mariette van Huijstee

Senior Researcher, Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations (SOMO)

Tuesday November 26, 2019 09:00 - 10:15 CET
Room XXV