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23rd Regular Session of the UN Human Rights Council Item 5: Human Rights Bodies and Mechanisms Oral Statement Delivered by Ms. Pooja Patel on Behalf of Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA)

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Thank you Mr. President.

FORUM-ASIA and the ESCR-Net Corporate Accountability Working Group (CAWG) welcome the opportunity to address the report of the annual Forum on Business and Human Rights. Having participated in the first Forum, a joint letter of CSOs working collaboratively through ESCR-Net’s CAWG was sent to the UN Working Group on the issue of human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises, following their call for suggestions and views concerning the upcoming Forum on 3-4 December 2013. [1] We take this opportunity to inform this Council on our recommendations on the mandate, focus and scope of the Forum as well as on issues concerning participation.

Mr. President, the first Forum focused on identifying the challenges and best practices in implementing the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. We remind this Council that, in its resolution 17/4, it provided the Forum with the mandate to also “promote dialogue and cooperation on issues linked to business and human rights”. As such, we recommend that this year’s Forum identifies concrete proposals and suggestions to advance States’ duty to protect. In particular, we encourage greater attention on States’ extra-territorial means of protecting human rights, the incorporation of human rights due diligence requirements into States’ procurement practices, as well as development and integration of safeguards and grievance mechanisms in the operations of their development and export credit agencies. Furthermore, we urge that greater attention be focused on States’ role in the protection of human rights defenders, in particular those working on land and environmental rights. Lastly, we strongly recommended the Working Group take leadership to ensure there are sufficient opportunities on the agenda of the Forum to examine available means for providing international systems of effective judicial and non-judicial remedy as well as binding international regulation of extreme forms of corporate human rights abuse. We also proposed to the Working Group to commit to producing a report of the progress made on the implementation of the Guiding Principles and other lessons it has learned for the Forum with a discussion on how it intends to build on these.

Finally Mr. President, the first Forum successfully gathered over 1,000 participants, providing a unique opportunity for a meaningful multi-stakeholder interaction. In this regard, FORUM-ASIA and the CAWG call upon States to more actively participate in the event. We also request that the Working Group continue to ensure that the participation of affected people is prioritized. Furthermore, we encourage the Working Group to ensure participation of UN Special Procedures mandate holders and members of UN Treaty Bodies that have recognized expertise in business and human rights. Integrating these suggestions in the design and execution of the second UN Forum on Business and Human Rights can lead towards progress in developing and strengthening effective means of remedy for people impacted by corporate, environmental and human rights abuses.

Thank you Mr. President.

[1] Joint letter on suggestions for the 2013 UN Forum on Business and Human Rights, 12 April 2012

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