The topic of the VII Regional Forum on Business and Human Rights in Latin America and the Caribbean was “Building the business and human rights and responsible business conduct agenda for the next decade”. ILO co-organized the forum, given the interlinkages between the business and human rights agenda and the promotion and application of international labour standards in business operations, as reflected in the UN Guiding Principles of business and human rights and the ILO Tripartite Declaration of Principles concerning Multinational Enterprises and Social Policy (MNE Declaration).
In the opening session, Italo Cardona, Director of the ILO Office for the Andean Countries, stated "We reaffirm ILO's commitment to continue strengthening the capacities of all actors in the world of decent work on business and human rights for a fair, sustainable and inclusive Latin America and the Caribbean region". The Secretary-General of IOE, Roberto Suárez Santos, stated that "Responsible Business Conduct (RBC) goes beyond the legal debate on whether it is voluntary or mandatory. Consumers, investors and workers expect companies to behave responsibly. RBC has become a business requirement". Eric Campos, member of the Executive Council of the Trade Union Confederation of de Americas (CSA-TUCA), pointed out the need for collective bargaining agreements to clarify the incorporation of labour rights in due diligence. As part of the preparatory meetings to the Regional Forum, trade unions from Latin America could meet for the very first time in a caucus on the topic of business and human rights, facilitated by ILO and led by ITUC-CSA. IOE led a caucus for participating employers; and an inter-governmental community of practice brought together participants from the government.
Within the overall topic of the Forum, a session co-organized by ILO, OHCHR and OECD discussed legislative developments in relation to due diligence and the impacts of these legislations in the region. ILO led a session on trade, investment and decent work as well as a session on trade unions and access to remedy. In a session on SMEs and the business and human rights agenda, Olga Orozco, Manager of the RBCLAC project, highlighted the need for SME capacity building and specific supporting measures.
The 35 plenary and parallel sessions allowed for rich discussions on the role of the State in strengthening corporate accountability in the region, the need for greater policy coherence in the State’s role as an economic actor, the relevance of due diligence as a tool for accountability, and the need to strengthen access to remedy for victims of human rights abuses in business operations. The participation of governments, employers’ organizations and workers’ organizations shows the engagement of ILO constituents in the business and human rights agenda and more specifically its labour dimension.
Governments, employers and workers will have the opportunity to deepen the dialogue on the labour dimension of responsible business conduct and the business and human rights agenda and share their experiences during the upcoming regional seminar organized by the ILO RBCLAC project in Panama (31 August - 2 September 2022).