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Wednesday, November 18 • 13:00 - 14:00
Business and Human Rights in Central and Eastern Europe: Rebuilding trust for new social contract

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A RECORDING OF THIS SESSION IS AVAILABLE HERE.

A TRANSCRIPT OF THIS SESSION IS AVAILABLE IN RUSSIAN HERE.


Session organized by the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights in collaboration with the Business and Human Rights Lab at the Yaroslav Mudryi National Law University in Ukraine and the Polish Institute for Human Rights and Business 

Session in English only

Brief description of the session:

The session seeks to discuss business and human rights issues in the Central and Eastern European context and to provide a platform to exchange views and knowledge on the challenges to the effective implementation of UNGPs, positive developments and good practices among countries in the region building on the important work of the different stakeholders such as governmentals, businesses and the civil society sector. The session will showcase various ways and examples in which governments, businesses and civil society actors have been successfully overcoming existing challenges to the effective implementation of UNGPs. It will focus in particular on how applying a multistakeholder and inclusive approach and identifying and addressing relevant issues of common concern could be effective instrument to rebuild trust for new social contract. Keeping in mind the specificities and challenges of the Central Eastern European region, the session will firstly discuss positive regulatory develpments, such as national action plans and other initiatives developed and implemented in the region to promote responsable business conduct and support human rights due diligence processes in practice. The session will also look then at the devastating impact of the COVID19 and related social and economic crisis, including on decent working conditions and social protection systems in the region and will showcase initiatives to overcome these challenges and to “build back better”. Finally, the session will discuss challenges and opportunities for empowering victims of business related human rights abuses to seek effective access to effective remedy in though judicial and non-judicial mechanisms.

Key objectives of the session:
  • to illustrate, through selected case studies, how transparent, multistakeholder and inclusive approaches (bringing together governments, businesses, CSOs, HRDs, academics, NHRIs), the development and implementation of NAPs, and other initiatives to support businesses in their human rights due diligence efforts may enhance/improve corporate respect for human rights;
  • to indicate the most significant obstacles and opportunities to implement the UNGPs in the countries of the region with regard to addressing the vulnerability of workers, customers, suppliers and communities, especially in times of global crisis;
  • to highlight the risks of business-related human rights abuses topical for the region which have increased in  COVID-19 times, in particular as they relate to decent working conditions and social protection systems, and discuss strategies and good practices to overcome these challenges;
  • to discuss ways in which victims in the Central and Eastern European region may be empowered in seeking access to effective remedy against business related human rights abuses;
 
Key questions:
  • Why business should engage and advocate for reforms that would create a more conducive environment for responsible business?
  • What regulatory measures have proved to be effective in the region? What are the gaps and the challenges that still remain and how to address them efficiently, including through mandatory regulations?
  • Forced labour, informal employment, discrimination, unsafe working conditions, lack of effective non-state remedies to protect business related human rights abuses and other problems remain topical for the region. What steps have different stakeholders taken to address region specific business related human rights abuses related to work conditions and social protection, in particular in times of COVID19?
  • How can multistakeholder and inclusive approaches help in the development and implementation of NAPs and other human rights due diligence initiatives to ensure higher corporate respect for human rights in Central and Eastern Europe? What elements are essential to ensure that those initiatives really contribute to rebuilding trust and clear path for future discussion on the new social contract?
  • Are there any good practices in the region for empowering victims in seeking effective remedy for business related human rights abuses?

Background to the discussion:

Despite the fall of undemocratic regimes and the related positive developments, countries in the very diverse region of Central and Eastern Europe continue to experience a low level of awareness on business and human rights. This is due to many factors, including the absence of strong democratic institutions, shrinking space for civil society, corruption, ineffective systems of remedy for victims of business related human rights abuses, as well as a result of low level of trust among actors in society. The COVID 19 related economic crisis had a devastating impact on working conditions, which even before pandemic were not meeting the ‘decent work’ standard and social protections in a region that historically have been suffering from weak trade unions and labour rights, as well as ineffective remedies for business related human rights abuses.

The region specific challenges require better regulation, more effective enforcement of existing regulations and contextual, bottom-up and inclusive initiatives and strategies developed in collaboration all stakeholders concerned in order to implement the UN Guiding Principles (UNGPs) effectively, and improve human rights record of companies operating in the region The session builds on challenges and lessons learned on how States and businesses, in cooperation the civil society sector in Central and Eastern Europe are discharging their respective duties and responsibilities across the three pillars of the “Protect, Respect and Remedy” Framework of the UNGPs.

Additional background documents and links:


The session will help inform the WG’s project ‘Business and human rights: towards a decade of global implementation' (also known as “UNGPs 10+ / Next Decade BHR”). Centred around the upcoming tenth anniversary of the UNGPs in 2021, the project is taking stoc

Speakers
avatar for Olena Uvarova

Olena Uvarova

Head of the International Lab on Business and Human Rights, Yaroslav Mudryi National Law University, Ukraine
Ph.D in Law, lecturer in the Theory of Law Department, Head of the International Lab on business and human rights at Yaroslav Mudryi National Law University, member of the editorial board of the journal “Philosophy of Law and General Theory of Law” (EBSCO Publishing).In 2017 she... Read More →
avatar for Beata Faracik

Beata Faracik

Co-Founder & President of the Board, Polish Institute for Human Rights and Business
avatar for Liudmyla Denisova

Liudmyla Denisova

Project Assistant, Ombudsman of Ukraine
Ms. Liudmyla Denisova was born on July 06, 1960 in Arkhangelsk city.In 1989, she graduated from the St. Petersburg State University with a degree in Law; lately she studied economics (accounting and audit) at the Tauride Institute of Entrepreneurship and Law.From 1998 to 2001 she... Read More →
avatar for Elżbieta Karska

Elżbieta Karska

member, UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights
Ms. Elżbieta Karska is a Professor and the Head of the Department of Protection of Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law and the Director of the Institute of International Law, European Union and International Relations at the Faculty of Law and Administration, Cardinal... Read More →
avatar for Arjan Dyrmishi

Arjan Dyrmishi

Coordinator, Southeast Europe Coalition on Whistleblower Protection
I’m the Executive Director and Founder of the Centre for the Study of Democracy and Governance based in Tirana, Albania and the Co-coordinator of the Southeast Europe Coalition on Whistleblower Protection (SECWP). As a coordinator of the SECWP my role is to ensure coherence and... Read More →
avatar for Lyra Jakulevičienė

Lyra Jakulevičienė

Dean, Law School; Professor, Mykolas Romeris University
Short biosDr. Lyra Jakuleviciene is an international and European Union law professor at Mykolas Romeris University (Lithuania). Over 20 years of her professional experience combines research, training and international consultancies on human rights, asylum and migration issues. She... Read More →
avatar for Marina Kapustina

Marina Kapustina

junior associate, bnt attorneys in CEE
junior associate at bnt attorneys in CEE, Bratislava Memberships: Slovenská advokátska komora (Slovak Bar Association)Language: English, Russian, Slovak, UkrainianBusiness and human rights regulatory compliance and litigation risks are becoming core concerns for many businesses... Read More →
avatar for Dominika Wierzbowska

Dominika Wierzbowska

Head of the Unit for CSR and NGOs cooperation, Ministry of Development Funds and Regional Policy
A graduate of the Warsaw School of Economics, majoring in international economic relations and specializing in international business. Since 2009, an employee of the government administration. For years has been specializing in corporate social responsibility. Juror of market competitions... Read More →
avatar for Natasa Bergelj

Natasa Bergelj

Head of the Human Rights Department, Ministry of Foreign Affairs
As Head of the Human Rights Department I'm also responsible for coordinating the competent state, business and private stakeholders in the process of creating and implementing the National Action Plan on BHR for Slovenia. We have almost completed our first cycle with the adoption... Read More →
avatar for Ekaterina Deikalo

Ekaterina Deikalo

Associate Professor of the International law Chair, Belarusian State University
PhD in International Law,  Associate professor (docent). Working at the Belarusian State University  on the position of  Associate professor at the International Law Chair,  (in 2014-March 2020 have been working  as the Head of the International law Chair)  Field of  research... Read More →
avatar for Stefan Jovanovski

Stefan Jovanovski

Head of Human Resources, A1 Makedonija dooel Skopje
I work in Telecommunications industry since 2002 in various HR related positions. Currently, I'm the Head of Human Resources in A1 Makedonija, a leading Telecommunication provider on the Macedonian market.My belief is you are only as good as the people around you, and my focus is... Read More →
avatar for Salome Zurabishvili

Salome Zurabishvili

Executive Director, Global Compact Network Georgia
Ms. Salome Zurabishvili has founded and been heading the Global Compact Network Georgia since February 2016. She assumed the position of Executive Director of the host organization of the GCNG platform, non-governmental organization CiDA, in April 2018.She is a Human Rights Lawyer... Read More →



Wednesday November 18, 2020 13:00 - 14:00 CET
Virtual Room 2