ASEAN: Report reveals top-listed companies fall short of international norms in human rights disclosure

Author: ASEAN CSR Network, Institute of Human Rights and Peace Studies, Mahidol University & Article 30, Published on: 14 May 2019

ASEAN CSR Network, the Institute of Human Rights and Peace Studies, Mahidol University and Article 30 published a collaborative report to establish a baseline understanding of human rights disclosure in the ASEAN region by probing materials made available by the top 50 publicly listed companies in the stock exchanges of Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand. The report revealed that human rights disclosure among the top-listed companies in ASEAN falls short of the benchmark set by the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. The report also identified disclosure gaps, offered good examples from the region and highlighted points of leverage including National Action Plans (NAPs) and stock exchange disclosure regulations.

Key Findings

• Currently, human rights disclosure in Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand falls substantially short of the international norm set in the UNGPs both in terms of extent and quality.

• There appears a strong correlation between the level of human rights disclosure in a country and the Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) disclosure rules, requirements and guidance mechanisms of the stock exchange in that country. Stock exchange regulations may be a potent catalyst for mainstreaming the responsibility to respect human rights in ASEAN.

• The presence of dedicated human rights policies serves as a strong indicator in determining whether a company has processes in place that live up to the standards the UNGPs call for.

• In select cases, some of the lowest-listed companies scored better than top-listed companies in the same country.

• Despite the spotlight on human trafficking in the region, the regional prominence of the Palermo Protocol and the ASEAN Plan of Action Against Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, only 15.6% of top-listed companies make any mention of human trafficking as a focal issue.

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