USCIB members discussed issues related to business and human rights with representatives of the United Nations Working Group on Business and Human Rights, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, and the U.S. Ambassador to the Human Rights Council at the 11th United Nations Forum on Business and Human Rights. This year’s Forum was held in Geneva during the week of November 28 and focused on the topic, Rights Holders at the Center: Strengthening Accountability to Advance Business Respect for People and Planet in the Next Decade.
The Forum provided a platform for historically underrepresented groups to voice their concerns and for business to reiterate its commitment for advancing human rights. However according to USCIB Policy Associate Jose Arroyo, business representation during the formal sessions was unfortunately limited, making the side events and extra meetings, which were organized by USCIB and the International Organization of Employers (IOE), all the more important.
“USCIB and IOE expressed to the UN Working Group the need to engage business in the discussions and highlighted our common goals to address informality, close the gap between labor practice and labor law and encourage more decisive action from States in enforcing existing regulations,” said Arroyo.
“While notable discussions were held during the Forum, the absence of a business perspective across several panels was palpable,” added Arroyo. This message, as well as the fact that business should be regarded as a partner in the promotion and protection of human rights on the ground, was conveyed directly to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, in a private meeting organized by IOE.
“In our messaging to the High Commissioner, the business community clearly expressed our common goal to promote the Human Rights approach and reiterated our strong commitment to do the right thing,” concluded Arroyo.
In the USCIB-organized meeting with the U.S. Ambassador to the Human Rights Council, members had the opportunity to discuss their concerns regarding the draft UN Binding Treaty on Business and Human Rights and upcoming legislation in Europe, as well as to describe their due diligence efforts in the context of the UN Guiding Principles.