The UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs) provide the authoritative global framework for the respective duties and responsibilities of governments and business enterprises to prevent and address business-related human rights abuses.
They also offer a blueprint for how business respect for human rights can support the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in line with international human rights standards.
The Pacific region has made some progress in raising awareness about the UNGPs and promoting business respect for human rights.
The OHCHR Regional Office for the Pacific and the UNWG, in collaboration with other partners, have organized several workshops in Fiji and Papua New Guinea (PNG) during 2018-19 to raise awareness about BHR issues and standards and to build capacity of various stakeholders to implement the UNGPs.
The OHCHR Regional Office for the Pacific has also worked with, and provided training to, the Pacific Business Resilience Network (PBRN), the Fiji Business Disaster Resilience Council (FBDRC) and Fiji Commerce & Employers Federation (FCEF) around the UNGPs.
The Government of Fiji has adopted the ‘Green Growth Framework’ and recently ratified the ILO’s Violence and Harassment Convention 2019 (No. 190).
The Markets for Change (M4C) project of UN Women and the UNDP aims at ensuring that marketplaces in rural and urban areas in Fiji, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu are safe, inclusive and non-discriminatory environments, promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment.
The Pacific Island Forum is also developing the ‘2050 Strategy for the Blue Pacific Continent’.
Moreover, Australia enacted the Modern Slavery Act, which requires large Australia companies to report on the risks of slavery in their operations and supply chains as well as the steps taken (e.g., human rights due diligence and remediation processes) to respond to the identified risks.
However, despite all these initiatives, the Pacific region continues to experience significant challenges in addressing adverse human rights impacts of business activities, especially those related to extractives (including deep-sea mining), fishing, and infrastructure projects. Individuals and communities across the Pacific have experienced loss of livelihood, forced displacement, environmental pollution, labour rights abuses, intimidation of human rights defenders, the loss of traditional knowledge and biodiversity, increased risks of community conflicts, and gender-based violence.
Moreover, the Pacific region is disproportionately affected by the climate crisis, which directly and indirectly threatens the effective enjoyment of a range of human rights, including the rights to life, water and sanitation, food, health, housing, education, self-determination, culture and development. Individuals and communities continue to face significant barriers in seeking effective remedies and holding the involved businesses accountable for human rights abuses.
Given the multitude of BHR challenges as well as different levels of progress in implementing the UNGPs in different world regions, it is critical for all relevant stakeholders to work together in a regional setting to prevent, mitigate and remediate the adverse impact of business activities on human rights.
Doing so will contribute to achieving inclusive and sustainable development in the Pacific.
It is in this context that the OHCHR Regional Office for the Pacific and the UNWG are organizing the 1st UN Pacific Forum on Business and Human Rights to highlight key BHR issues as well as identify opportunities for effective implementation of the UNGPs in the region.
This regional forum will build on past BHR workshops in Fiji and PNG as well as the session at 2019 UN Forum on BHR issues in the Pacific. It aims to foster races to the top in the Pacific region, similar to the UNWG’s strategy in other world regions.
Ms. Samantha Kuman, CELCOR’s Advocacy Officer, will be presenting on the panel in this session to give an insight to the climate justice actions taken by communities and organizations in Papua New Guinea in the fight against climate change and the movement in response to an emerging coal industry in Papua New Guinea and CELCORs collaborative effort in the NOGAT COAL:NO COAL IN PAPUA NEW GUINEA Campaign.
This is an online event. Link to event page below.