The Qatar dimension: 2016 Asia Regional Forum

The first Asia Regional Forum on Business and Human Rights was held in Doha, Qatar in April 2016. The programme featured sessions on protecting and respecting the rights of migrant workers and the impact of mega-sporting events on human rights - timely and relevant themes given the country's hosting of the 2022 World Cup and continuing allegations of migrant worker labour abuses.

The event garnered national and international media coverage in English and Arabic, an overview of which can be found below.

For perspectives on business and human rights from acrosst the region visit our Voices from Asia special feature, and for more information about the Forum and links to key resources, click here.

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Article
26 April 2016

Doha Forum: Panellists call on Asian govts to draw action plans to improve human rights

Author: Ramesh Mathew, Gulf Times

Asian governments should initiate comprehensive National Action Plans (NAPs) for the effective implementation of human rights, the 16th Asian Region Business and Human Rights Forum urged yesterday. Speaking at the concluding session, representatives from business, civil societies and international forums said studies in recent years have found at least 27 Asian countries need to work more effectively on the issue of human rights so that there could be significant improvement in their economic growth. ...

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Article
24 April 2016

Ooredoo hosts Business and Human Rights Forum guests

Author: The Peninsula Qatar

Sheikh Khalid bin Jassim Al Thani, Director of the Human Rights Department at the Ministry [of Foreign Affairs], said: “This UN forum has given us the chance to emphasise that the State of Qatar pays special attention to the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms. We have given our full attention and participation to this event, and hope to see positive results and partnerships in the future. Thank you to Ooredoo for their cooperation in organising the gala dinner and for supporting Qatar’s human rights development strategy.

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Article
22 April 2016

Human rights: the Doha round

Author: Sudeep Chakravarti, Live Mint

There are perhaps few ironies in 2016 more powerful than a human rights conference in Qatar. The West Asian country continues to be pilloried for creating infrastructure for the football World Cup in 2022 on the backs of slave-like treatment of guest workers, their frequent injuries and deaths... [the Forum] could be said to be an attempt by Qatar to counter a public relations disaster and its attempt to brush its human rights record under the magic carpet of infrastructure and sporting showbiz... I prefer to think of it as another emphatic step towards greater awareness of local and regional issues, human rights related to business and a cross-border networking of stakeholders. 

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Article
21 April 2016

Expats high value in Qatar’s development

Author: Kim Kemp, Construction Week

HE the Assistant Foreign Minister for Foreign Affairs Sultan bin Saad al-Muraikhi said at the function that Qatar appreciates the efforts of its expatriate workforce and considers them as key partners of the country’s development and growth. In the opening session of the First UN Asia Regional Forum on Business and Human Rights he said: “The protection and enhancement of such workforce is a strategic choice of the country, as these workers are considered of pivotal importance in the exceptional economic boom.”

As the country pays increasing attention to the issue of business and the protection of human rights, Qatar hosting the forum is part of the country’s open policy to host the major forums concerned with human rights.

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Article
20 April 2016

Qatar committed to workers' welfare, says al-Thawadi

Author: Gulf Times

Qatar is committed to making continuous progress on the welfare of country's workers, the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy (SC) secretary general Hassan al-Thawadi said...[to] a session at the 2016 UN Asia Regional Forum on Business and Human Rights. 

“When we bid for the World Cup we did it with the spirit that a mega sporting event is not only a catalyst for a country’s own development plans but there is a responsibility to leave a lasting legacy," al-Thawadi pointed out. "One important part of it is the social legacy we leave behind after the tournament. Our measure of success is what legacy this tournament leaves behind for Qatar and the region,” he said while recalling the recent appointment of a third party independent monitor.  "This year we also launched a customised IT auditing platform because we understood the issues we faced in the complex supply chain. We recognised early on the issues that we faced in the State of Qatar and we take our commitment to this matter very seriously, based on our values, traditions and culture. We look to this World Cup as a catalyst for sustainable, long-term change. We will continue beyond 2022 in our commitment. I don’t want to paint the picture that we are perfect, but we are committed to this and significant progress has been made.”

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Article
20 April 2016

World Cup stadiums were not our 'problem', admits FIFA

Author: David Harding, AFP

FIFA ignored any problems to do with World Cup stadium construction, including human rights, up to and including Brazil in 2014, a senior official admitted on Wednesday. Federico Addiechi said football's governing body did not view anything concerned with the building of venues for football's biggest tournament as its "problem"..."In the past we did not recognise the work done in connection with the construction of the stadiums for the World Cup as part of our responsibility," he said. "We are doing that now. But even until the World Cup in Brazil we always said... the stadiums are not commissioned by us, we don't have a contractual relationship with the owners, we are only using it for one month... and therefore if there are problems, there's someone else you talk (to) about the problem, certainly not FIFA."

However, he stressed that had been overturned with FIFA's recent adoption of a human rights policy and it now recognises its responsibilities.

New president Gianni Infantino was criticised for his non-attendance by Amnesty International, and a Bangladeshi delegate pleaded with Qatar to treat workers with "respect". And one union leader -- Sharan Burrow, general secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation -- claimed she had been followed the previous evening by security services.

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Article
+ العربية - Hide

Author: Kooora

أكد حسن الذوادي الامين العام للجنة العليا للمشاريع والإرث، التزام قطر بما قطعته على نفسها من تعهدات لتنظيم مونديال استثنائي وغير مسبوق...جاءت تصريحات الذوادي خلال مشاركته اليوم الأربعاء في الجلسة الحوارية الموسعة في المنتدى الإقليمي لقارة آسيا حول الأعمال التجارية وحقوق الإنسان، الذي استضافته العاصمة القطرية الدوحة خلال الفترة من 19 و20 نيسان/أبريل الجاري...أوضح أن قطر تبنت تحسين الظروف ومعيشة العمال بدءا من عام 2008، حتى قبل أن تقدم ملف استضافة كأس العالم 2022، كون هذا الأمر يندرج ضمن رؤية قطر 2030..."إننا ندرك حجم التحديات والمشاكل ونعلم جيدا أن هناك عددا كبيرا من الشركات لا يلبي الاحتياجات ولا يلتزم بالمعايير، ونحن مطالبون بتغيير هذه الوضعية وهذا بالفعل ما نفعله ليلا نهارا، ولن يهدأ لن بال إلا بحل جميع المشاكل التي تواجه عملنا

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Author: أنور الخطيب، العربي

أكد مسؤول حقوقي أممي بحصول تغيير في واقع العمال الوافدين في قطر، لكنه قال إن "الوقت لا زال مبكراً لإصدار حكم نهائي على الجهود والتغيرات التي تقوم بها السلطات القطرية في هذا الصدد"...وصف ممثل الفيفا، فيديركو أديشي، الذي شارك في المؤتمر الذي اختتم أعماله اليوم الأربعاء، جهود اللجنة العليا للمشاريع والإرث التي يرتبط الفيفا معها بعلاقة تعاقدية، في مجال الإصلاحات العمالية والحفاظ على سلامة وراحة العمال بأنها إيجابية، وقال إن "الفيفا منخرطة مع اللجنة في حوار مستمر حول هذه القضايا، وأن العلاقات فيما بينهما ممتازة". مضيفاً أن هناك جهوداً من أجل احترام حقوق الإنسان، وهذه الجهود تعتبر أساسية لتحسين أوضاع العمال في البلاد 

وركز المنتدى في جلساته على تنفيذ المبادئ التوجيهية للأمم المتحدة بشأن الأعمال التجارية وحقوق الإنسان التي تم اعتمادها من قبل الدول الأعضاء في الأمم المتحدة عام 2011 كمعيار عالمي موثوق لمنع وإدارة مخاطر ضرر حقوق الإنسان المتعلقة بالأعمال التجارية

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Article
19 April 2016

Keynote address by John Ruggie (Doha, 19 Apr 2016)

Author: John G. Ruggie, Harvard Univ., former UN Special Representative on business & human rights; with support from Shift

Let me now turn briefly to two related subjects: developments around the Guiding Principles in Asia and in global sports organizations, specifically in relation to FIFA and the 2022 Men’s World Cup in Qatar...The reasons for the relative reluctance of governments are many and diverse—too much so to explore them fully here today. But I think I detect one common thread: the belief on the part of some that respect for human rights may somehow impede economic growth and sustainable development—that growth must come first, and then we can talk about rights. This could not be further from the truth. Acting on that belief undermines both human rights and sustainable development...So, what are the answers? One is to invest in people—in health, education, adequate housing.Another is to embrace the transparency and accountability that are essential to learning from mistakes and recalibrating policies based on facts on the ground. This includes allowing human rights defenders to do their important work.Beyond these general policy prescriptions, all governments should set clear standards for businesses and enforce them...In connection with the 2022 Men’s World Cup, the issue of course is the kafala system for the control of migrant labor in Qatar. What I hope tomorrow’s panel will clarify is what FIFA and Qatar have done to address the human rights abuses committed under that system in connection with the World Cup, what if anything more they plan to do between now and 2022, and whether that’s enough. For now, let me just say that the case illustrates perfectly my core message: no one should—or can—hide from human rights. Being proactive in dealing with human rights challenges of course is better for those who are at risk...

 

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Article
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Author: الشرق

أكد سعادة السيد سلطان بن سعد المريخي مساعد وزير الخارجية للشؤون الخارجية أن دولة قطر تثمن إسهامات العمالة الوافدة وتعتبرهم شركاء أصيلين في المشروع التنموي والنهضوي الذي تنتهجه منوها الى أن اهتمام دولة قطر بتعزيز حقوق الإنسان يعد خيارا استراتيجيا انعكس في تطوير وتقوية البنية التحتية لحقوق الإنسان في الدولة على مستوياتها التشريعية والمؤسسية 

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