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UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights: 2019 highlights and opportunities for the New Year

“UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights: December 2019 Newsletter”, December 2019

The UN Working Group (UNWG) on Business and Human Rights…thank[s] stakeholders who participated in its activities in 2019. A few highlights from the end of this year and for the coming one:

2019 UN Forum on Business and Human Rights (Geneva, 25-27 Nov):

  • Attracted a 2, 000+ crowd of participants from different backgrounds…from more than 130 countries, representing governments, businesses, civil society and community groups, [NHRIs] and international organisations;
  • shared urgency…to make progress in protecting and respecting the human rights of workers, communities and human rights defenders whose rights and freedoms are adversely affected or at risk due to irresponsible business…practices and lack of accountability.
  • …[emphasis on] alarming situation for defenders…as attacks to silence those speaking up against business-related human rights abuse[s] continue…, against a backdrop of shrinking civic space…
  • …need to act to end modern slavery and child labour in global supply chains…
  • …growing risks to human rights arising in the context of new technologies and the climate crisis
  • …[calls] for a better “smart mix” of measures, not least the need for mandatory human rights due diligence legislation...[and] policy coherence…
  • …discussions to unpack what the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights require in practice...

Opportunities in 2020:

  • [The UNWG] thematic report to the UN Human Rights Council in June will address the connection between anti-corruption and business and human rights;
  • The thematic report to the UN General Assembly in October will identify practical steps that States and business enterprises as well as public and private investors should take…in conflict and post-conflict contexts;
  • The country visits for 2020 will be announced shortly. [The UNWG] visited Georgia and Honduras, and detailed reports with recommendations…will be presented…in June.
  • [The UNWG]…will convene regional events in South Asia,…Latin American and the Caribbean [and] will continue to promote the Guiding Principles in global governance fora, such as G20…
  • 2020 UN Forum on Business and Human Rights: the Forum will take place in Geneva on 16-18 November 2020. A call for input and [more] information…will be issued in early 2020.