CHR and ANGOC conduct a consultation on securing human rights in business ventures

Jeudi, 24th mai 2018

The Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines (CHR) in partnership with the Asian NGO Coalition for Agrarian Reform and Rural Development (ANGOC), with the support of the International Land Coalition (ILC), organized a multi-stakeholder consultation on the Philippine National Action Plan (NAP) on Business and Human Rights last 11 May 2018, at the CHR Central Office in Quezon City, Philippines. 

In 2011, the UN Human Rights Council unanimously endorsed the UN Guiding Principles for Business and Human Rights (UNGP BHR). The UNGP BHR lists guidelines for States and business enterprises to protect and promote human rights in business ventures. Under the Protect, Respect, and Remedy pillars of these principles, the UNGP BHR emphasize that States have the primary responsibility to prevent business-related human rights abuses, and to ensure, if such violations take place, that human rights victims have access to effective remedy.

However, business enterprises also bear a responsibility to respect human rights that exists independently of States’ duties. States are encouraged to adopt these principles through the enactment of a National Action Plan (NAP) for local implementation. Results of the discussions from the consultation may also contribute to the NAP, which is presently being crafted by the Presidential Human Rights Committee (PHRC).

Commissioner Roberto Cadiz, CHR Focal Commissioner for Business and Human Rights provided the opening remarks. This was followed by Congressman Teddy Baguilat of the Lone District of Ifugao’s remarks on the UNGP BHR. Both speakers highlighted on the importance of protecting human rights and upholding the rule of law in present times, and the need to further involve the private sector in dialogues tackling business and human rights.

Commissioner Cadiz delivers his opening remarks.

During the consultation, Atty. Jesus Torres, Division Chief of the Economic, Social and Cultural Rights Center of CHR introduced the UNGP BHR and the initiatives of the CHR and PHRC in relation to formulating a draft NAP. Atty. Gemma Parojinog, OIC-Director of CHR’s Policy Advisory Office, then shared the CHR and Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) initiative to incorporate the UNGP BHR in the legislative proposal to revise the Corporation Code of the Philippines.

Atty. Jess Torres of CHR introducing the UNGP BHR.

Ms. Dulce Paloma of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) then shared relevant provisions in the Philippine Development Plan 2017-2022 related to economic, social, and cultural rights, and their corresponding accomplishments as reported by various government agencies. 

During the breakout session, participants from government agencies, CSOs, and the private sector were also given the opportunity to share their thoughts on how duty bearers and stakeholders may promote stronger business responsibility to respect human rights, through strict compliance with laws, contributions to the implementation of the Respect pillar of the UNGP BHR, and through monitoring/reporting initiatives.

A total of 47 attendees (24 Males, 23 Females) attended the consultation. The program was facilitated by ANGOC Chairperson Emeritus, Fr. Francis Lucas.

The participants agreed to: a) popularize the UNGP BHR and assist in its dissemination to generate broader public support; b) continue the lobbying of key legislations that aim to mainstream the UNGP BHR, such as the proposed revision to the Corporation Code; and c) continue to engage with a broad array of stakeholders, and particularly to pursue engagements with the private sector in promoting human rights protection in business operations.