UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights introduced to the Philippine business sector
Manila – The United Nations (UN) Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights were today introduced to the Philippine private sector at a Forum on “Business and Human Rights”, held in the Makati Shangri-La Hotel. Hosted by the European Chamber of Commerce in the Philippines (ECCP), the Forum provided a platform for stakeholders to engage in dialogue on business and human rights, and to strengthen engagement towards the effective implementation of the Guiding Principles.
Also known as the “Ruggie Framework” due to the lead authorship of Professor John Ruggie, the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights serve as a tool for risk management, and assists companies in dealing with human rights dilemmas when they emerge. The implementation of these Guiding Principles helps prevent or mitigate the operational, legal, and reputational risks that companies may face due to human rights issues.
Speaking at the Forum, the Commission on Human Rights Chairperson, Loretta Rosales, described how businesses can have both a positive a negative impact on the rights of citizens. Hon. Rosales stated that the UN Guiding Principles, which underscore the obligation of the private sector as well as government to protect human rights, represents “a new way of doing business in our country, where we can also have a responsible and accountable state, and empowered citizens”.
UNDP Country Director Maurice Dewulf, in his keynote message, stressed that: “The growing importance of business has made it unavoidable to extend human rights duties also to the private sector.” Dewulf expressed UNDP’s willingness to work with the Commission on Human Rights and the private sector to translate the UN Guiding Principles into a concrete and comprehensive Human Rights Action Plan, so that human rights are mainstreamed into everyday business operations.
“No matter where the company comes from or where the company works in…we all expect private companies to adhere to human rights,” said Manon Wolfkamp of the Interchurch Organisation for Development Cooperation (ICCO-Cooperation). Ms. Wolfkamp noted the UN Guiding Principles brought government, the private sector, and civil society together for the promotion of human rights, as it “created a level playing field and solid foundation to work on”.
The Forum was organised by the Commission on Human Rights, the ECCP, the Hans Seidel Foundation, the ICCO-Cooperation, and the Integrity Initiative with the Makati Business Club. Also attending the Forum were prominent human rights advocates from civil society and the private sector, including the Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates, the Alternative Law Groups Inc., and the League of Corporate Foundations.