4th United Nations Responsible Business and Human Rights Forum Asia-Pacific (Bangkok, Thailand, 20-22 September 2022)

Co-organized by the ILO, the Forum aimed to strengthen responsible business and corporate accountability in the region.

News | 23 March 2022
The 4th UN Responsible Business and Human Rights Forum co-organized by ILO and other UN agencies under the theme “Harnessing Levers of Changes” took place in Bangkok, Thailand from 20-22 September 2022. With the participation of different stakeholders across the region, the Forum explored what has worked to promote business respect for human rights and the environment and what the remaining challenges were, as well as what novel strategies could be devised to accelerate progress in this area.

Ms. Chihoko Asada-Miyakawa, Assistant Director-General and Regional Director of the ILO Office for Asia and the Pacific, remarked in her keynote welcome address that “We must protect hard-won gains and seek innovative new solutions to challenges in the world of work such as high levels of informality”. She emphasised the need for the continued commitment of governments, workers and employers to ensuring decent work for all.

ILO led a session on “Combatting Informality and Spurring Formal Employment to Achieve Decent Work and Social Justice”. Representatives from government, employers’ and workers’ organisations, civil society and ILO experts discussed how the informal economy poses obstacles for workers to access their rights and obtain decent work but also for businesses to duly respect human rights in their operations. It was noted that governments, businesses and social partners have a vital role to play in establishing an enabling environment to facilitate transition towards formality for both enterprises and workers as a lever of change to achieve social justice and inclusive economic growth.

The Forum overall featured 16 sessions convening stakeholders from across the Asia-Pacific region for constructive dialogue and peer learning on how to strengthen responsible business and corporate accountability in the region. The sessions allowed for rich discussions on the role of governments and businesses in strengthening the business and human rights agenda in the region, the importance of policy coherence to prevent human rights abuses linked to business activity, the need for incentives to implement human rights due diligence and the need for an enabling environment for effective access to remediation.

The Forum highlighted the need to further translate the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs) and other relevant instruments such as the ILO Tripartite Declaration of Principles concerning Multinational Enterprises and Social Policy into concrete actions. And how this will require strong policy commitments, taking into account the need for enhanced protection of human rights, including of environmental defenders, as well as recognizing the importance of meaningful stakeholder engagement in the due diligence process for this process to genuinely be able to identify human rights adverse impacts in the region and address these in an inclusive way. The Forum highlighted that the next decade of the UNGPs needs to be one of action and implementation.