Saturday, November 14, 2015

2015 United Nations Forum on Business and Human Rights--Program Materials


I have been writing about the United Nations Forum on Business and Human Rights. (see here, here, here, and here). The Forum has been an important site for the meeting of key international stakeholders who tend to control the discussion about business and human rights in the international sphere. If for no other reason, that is reason enough for sustained attention to its proceedings. 

The Forum begins this coming Monday.  It will be an interesting marker of evolution--from an initial encounter with the new UN Guiding principles for Business and Human Rights, through lat year's focus on "Alignment, Adherence and Accountability", to the current focus on  "Tracking Progress and Ensuring Coherence."  All of this will be taking place in the shadow of efforts to either undermine, supplement or supplant the UN Guiding Principles in and through discussions of a comprehensive treaty for business and human rights (see my take here). That fugue--between Guiding Principles and Treaty will likely play out in subtle but significant ways over the course of the three days of the Forum (2 official days and a day set aside for sanctioned side events). 

I will be reporting on my assessment of the Forum, as I have done in years past.  For this post I include the introduction to the Conference program.  The link to conference speakers (me included) may be accessed here.

Additional informaiton:

Watch live! Room XX
Assembly Hall (17 Nov, 9:00-13:00)
Watch video recordings: UNTV
Twitter - follow live coverage: @UNrightswire

Welcome to the 2015 Forum!

This year’s Forum will identify ways to track progress, promote policy coherence and achieve more rapid change on the ground for rights-holders. Discussions in the plenary and parallel sessions will focus on six key areas that address the overall theme, taking into account the three pillars of the Guiding Principles: the State duty to protect against human rights abuses, the corporate responsibility to respect human rights, and the need for access to effective remedy for victims:
  1. Efforts to track performance and progress in the implementation of the Guiding Principles, examining the wide range of existing initiatives and methodologies from measuring, tracking and reporting to ranking and benchmarking to measure and track progress of implementation by States and businesses;
  2. Policy coherence in global governance frameworks, exploring the practical implications of the Guiding Principles for policies relating to trade, investment and sustainable development, and opportunities for improved policy coherence;
  3. Policy and practice coherence at the national level, exploring emerging practices, challenges and opportunities, including the increasing trend of developing national action plans on business and human rights, as well as a focus on State-owned enterprises and economic activities controlled by the State;
  4. Corporate respect for human rights in practice, exploring how companies can effectively prevent and address any adverse impact on human rights, with a particular focus on human rights due diligence, sector specific challenges and supply chain issues;
  1. Groups at risk, learning from human rights defenders and groups who have been and are at particular risk of business- related human rights abuses, assessing the level of protection, and exploring good practice responses;
  2. Access to effective remedy, examining trends and innovative ways to strengthen access to remedy for victims through both judicial and non-judicial mechanisms.
Each year the Forum strives to link discussions to concrete realities and existing challenges to securing protection, respect and remedy of private sector impact on human rights. Multi-stakeholder engagement between States, businesses, civil society and affected stakeholders across the three pillars of the Guiding Principles is a key focus. Mega sports events, which have dominated recent global headlines, also encapsulate all six of the Forum’s themes and will be discussed in a special session.

A number of parallel sessions organized by external stakeholders will complement UN-led sessions on the topics listed above and address key trends and issues related to specific rights, groups, sectors and operational contexts. High-level plenary sessions will provide leadership perspectives on the business and human rights agenda and current global trends.

Background documents, submissions and statements

Background documents and submissions

Background documents for session on "Multi-stakeholder engagement across all three pillars (case studies)", 16 and 18 November


Information on prior year Forums:

Third Annual United Nations Forum on Business and Human Rights, 1-3 December 2014

Second Annual United Nations Forum on Business and Human Rights, 2-4 December 2013

First Annual United Nations Forum on Business and Human Rights, 3-5 December 2012

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