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Wednesday, November 18 • 11:45 - 13:00
National human rights institutions as “preventive watchdogs”

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Session organized by the Working Group on Business and Human Rights and Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions (GANHRI)

Interpretation in English, French and Spanish available

Brief description of the session: 
The Edinburgh Declaration and several resolutions of the UN Human Rights Council acknowledge the important role of national human rights institutions (NHRIs) in protecting and promoting human rights, including in the business and human rights context. The session will showcase various ways in which NHRIs have been working to engage governments, business enterprises and civil society organisations to prevent business related human rights abuses: from raising awareness to building capacity, supporting human rights defenders, making law and policy reform recommendations, conducting public inquires, and providing remedies. It will also consider the tools that NHRIs have employed to overcome challenges faced in this process and what more is required to support and strengthen the role of NHRIs in preventing business-related human rights abuses.

Key objectives of the session:
The session seeks to:
  • illustrate, through selected case studies, how NHRIs can prevent business-related human rights abuses by adopting a range of measures;
  • highlight the challenges and limitations that NHRIs often face in achieving this objective and discuss potential strategies to overcome these challenges and limitations; and
  • discuss what more is required to support and strengthen the role and ability of NHRIs in preventing business-related human rights abuses.

Key questions:
  • What steps have different NHRIs taken to prevent business-related human rights abuses in times of Covid-19 or generally?
  • What are good practices adopted by NHRIs in preventing business-related human rights abuses?
  • How could the internal capacity of NHRIs be built around business and human rights standards?
  • What could be done to enhance the independence and autonomy of NHRIs so as to strengthen their role as effective “preventive watchdogs” in the field of business and human rights?

Background to the discussion:
The important role of NHRIs in promoting the implementation of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and preventing business-related human rights abuses is widely accepted. In July 2018, the Human Rights Council (A/HRC/RES/38/13) requested the UN Working Group "to analyse further the role of national human rights institutions in facilitating access to remedy for business-related human rights abuses, and to convene a two-day global consultation on these issues, open to all stakeholders, and to inform the Council by its forty-fourth session as appropriate". In line with this mandate, the Working Group invited NHRIs and other stakeholders to provide input. It also organised, in collaboration with GANHRI, a global consultation in Geneva in October 2019. Based on these and other outreach activities, the Working Group is currently drafting a report to be issued in June 2021.

The UN Human Rights Council (A/HRC/RES 44/15) encourages the UN Working Group “to continue its work on the role of national human rights institutions in promoting business and human rights”. Against this background and in line with the overarching theme of the 9th UN Forum, this session will focus on showcasing various measures and strategies adopted by NHRIs to prevent business-related human rights abuses. This issue has assumed a critical significance in times of Covid-19.

Additional background documents and relevant 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 stock of practice to date, identifying gaps and challenges, and developing a vision and roadmap for scaling up implementation of the UNGPs over the course of the next decade.

avatar for Surya Deva

Surya Deva

Vice-Chair, UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights


Austin Onuoha

Executive Director, Africa Center for Corporate Responsibility
avatar for Minwoo Kim

Minwoo Kim

Research Professor, International Human Rights Center at the GSIS, Korea University
Minwoo Kim is the Research Professor of International Human Rights Center at GSIS, Korea University and the Managing Director of Asia Business and Human Rights Center at Human Asia. He received his Ph.D. in International Relations from Korea University with a focus on business and... Read More →
avatar for Eunji Kang

Eunji Kang

Director, Business and Human Rights, Korean House for International Solidarity
avatar for Freddy Carrion Intriago

Freddy Carrion Intriago

Defensor del Pueblo, Defensoría del Pueblo (Ecuador)
Freddy Vinicio Carrión Intriago asumió el cargo de Defensor del Pueblo del Ecuador el 16 de abril de 2019.Es licenciado en ciencias jurídicas, abogado y doctor en jurisprudencia de la Pontificia Universidad Católica del Ecuador (PUCE), además cuenta con estudios superiores en... Read More →
avatar for Saunoamaali'i Karanina Sumeo

Saunoamaali'i Karanina Sumeo

Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner, Human Rights Commission
Saunoamaali’i has a strong commitment to improving equal employment opportunities, particularly bringing a Pasifika perspective to human rights issues facing Aotearoa New Zealand.For 20 years, Saunoamaali’i has worked as a public advisor and social worker, advocating for the interests... Read More →
avatar for Tamar Gvaramadze

Tamar Gvaramadze

First Deputy Public Defender, Office of Public Defender (Ombudsman) of Georgia
Dr. Tamar Gvaramadze is a legal professional, with over 11 years of cumulative experience, covering both managerial and administrative positions, as well as content-related analytical work at the public and non-governmental sectors. Under her management in one of the leading NGOs... Read More →
avatar for Mwambus Mwamba

Mwambus Mwamba

President, NHRI of DRC

Dr. Rana Sengupta

Managing Trustee & CEO, Mine Labour Protection Campaign Trust (MLPC)

Wednesday November 18, 2020 11:45 - 13:00 CET
Plenary Room