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The annual Responsible Business and Human Rights Forum in the Asia-Pacific is meeting this week to address serious concerns about the course of social justice and development priorities.

Bangkok - 02 Jun 2021

News Number: G/18/2021

“Let us commit to action”:  UN regional leaders call for concrete steps to integrate human rights standards into business practice

Photo credit: istockphoto/Eriz Razak

A leading regional forum has urged a renewed commitment from business and governments to accelerate progress towards the achievement of the global development goals. Regional Heads from eight UN organisations released a joint video statement calling for the “principled collaboration of business and the international community,” to address growing gaps in social justice, public health and environmental progress.

The UN leaders urged delegates at this year’s Responsible Business and Human Rights Forum to take “tangible, meaningful steps” on responsible business practices, women’s empowerment, protection of migrants’ rights, climate action, human rights due diligence and the use of data in the monitoring of international standards on labour and the environment. 

“Let us commit to action for an economic development that is inclusive and safeguards our environment,” the statement said.

The Forum takes place on the eve of the 10th anniversary of the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human rights – considered a foundational guide to global human rights standards for business. 

Over forty-six scheduled panel sessions featuring more than 200 experts will assess progress and responses to business and human rights challenges including eradicating the worst forms of child labour, eliminating violence and harassment in supply chains and ensuring women’s empowerment to create more inclusive value chains, among others.  

The event comes as many nations in the Asia Pacific region are grappling with the serious public health and economic consequences of a damaging phase in the pandemic.   Discussions will also reflect on the impact of COVID 19 on progress toward the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.  

While the pandemic has highlighted pre-existing protection gaps, the Forum will also examine a wider context of issues relating to responsible business, including climate change and environmental degradation, biodiversity loss, rising inequality, shrinking civic space and lack of accountability, among others.  The need for structural and systemic change to realize sustainable development for all has become increasingly urgent.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the Forum will be virtual this year, gathering participants on a dedicated internet platform.   More than 2000 delegates from governments, business, civil society organizations and workers’ groups have signed up for this year’s event.

Hosts of the UN Responsible Business and Human Right Forum include the International Labour Organization (ILO), the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women), the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), and the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights (UNWG).

The event is sponsored by the European Union (EU) and The Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA).

For more information or to follow discussions live, see

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