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Article

23 Nov 2020

Author:
Anita Ramasastry, Chairperson of the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights

Opening remarks by Chairperson of UN Working Group on Business & Human Rights at 1st Regional Forum on Business & Human Rights in Eastern Europe & Central Asia

I am honoured to deliver opening remarks at the 1st Regional Forum on Business and Human Rights in Eastern Europe and Central Asia. I address you in my capacity as Chair of the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights.

The Working Group is pleased to be part of it and to have had the opportunity to collaborate with UNDP in the preparations of the event. Together with UNDP, our ambition is to support regional races to the top among governments and business...

[T]he rapid pace of economic liberalization, of course, always bring new challenges, including ones with regard to business respect for human rights. As investment has increased, so has the need to ensure that economic liberalization also takes into account the impacts on people. This is where business and human rights and the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights play a critical role.

My basic message is that business and human rights is not just about companies doing good...

[I]t is critical for business to identify the harms it is causing, contributing to, or linked to, and to work to prevent and remedy them. This is the biggest challenge – we need to ensure business is not done at a cost to people’s lives and wellbeing. So – please remember this core concept – ‘Business and Human Rights’, or BHR, is about business doing no harm – this is respect for human rights...

The UN Guiding Principles are a key tool for prevention of negative human rights impacts and as a result are essential to a strategy for a resilient recovery...

16 June 2021 will mark the 10th anniversary of the Guiding Principles...

This upcoming milestone presents an opportunity to reflect on progress and challenges to date and, more importantly, to plan and create a renewed push for scaled-up global implementation going forward...

We are pleased that this regional forum will serve as stocktaking for Eastern Europe and Central Asia and help inform UNGPs10+...

A key finding coming out of UNGPs10+ to date is that the business and human rights movement has not succeeded in addressing the massive capacity building need in many regions...

Very few states in this region have national action plans on business and human rights. I hope that the discussion here will pave the way for further and quick action from states to make policy commitments on business and human rights. I also hope that business will see the importance of sustainable markets needing to have the Guiding Principles as part of the recipe. And civil society is a critical partner to both governments and business in understanding impacts of economic activities on people.

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