GENEVA (28 November 2012) – Around one thousand participants will join the largest global discussion to date on how governments and businesses are moving to address the impacts of business activities on human rights, which will take place in Geneva on 3-5 December 2012.
The participants from 85 countries, including around 40 State delegations, 150 business enterprises and 170 civil society organisations, will join the global dialogue at the United Nations first annual Forum on Business and Human Rights.
“The first Forum on Business and Human Rights has already exceeded all expectations. The much higher than anticipated turnout indicates the interest from all stakeholders in the business and human rights agenda,” said Puvan Selvanathan, who currently heads the five-strong UN Group of experts tasked with guiding the event.
The Forum is designed to promote the implementation of the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights*, a set of internationally accepted principles which provide a global standard for preventing and addressing the risk of negative human rights impacts linked to business activity.
The Guiding Principles outline what States and business enterprises should do in practice to prevent and address impacts and to ensure access to effective remedies for those whose rights have been adversely affected by business activity.
“They also give businesses predictability in what is expected of them, and provide other stakeholders, including civil society and investors, the tools to measure progress where it matters most – in the daily lives of people,” said John Ruggie, the former Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General on the issue, who led the work to develop the Principles. Professor Ruggie was appointed the first chairperson of the Forum. “The work toward full implementation of the UN Guiding Principles for business and human rights has only just begun.”
The UN Forum on Business and Human Rights will bring together, among others, representatives for multinational corporations in the areas of mining, oil and energy, chemicals, banking and finance, electronics and textile and garments, with persons affected by their activities.
“This first global gathering on businesses and human rights will be an opportunity for all stakeholders to discuss challenges in the implementation of the Guiding Principles in particular sectors, in operational environments and in relation to specific rights and groups, and to identify good practices and opportunities for dialogue and cooperation toward solutions,” Mr. Selvanathan said.
The UN Working Group on the issue of human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises will hold a press conferenceon Tuesday 4 December at 2:30 pm, Press Room 3, at Palais des Nation, the UN Headquarters in Geneva.
The Working Group on Human Rights and Transnational Corporations and Other Business Enterprises was established by the United Nations Human Rights Council in June 2011. The five members are Mr. Michael Addo, Ms. Alexandra Guáqueta, Ms. Margaret Jungk, Mr. Puvan Selvanathan (current Chairperson-Rapporteur) and Mr. Pavel Sulyandziga. The Working Group is independent from any government or organization. It reports to the Human Rights Council and to the UN General Assembly.
Learn more, visit: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Business/Pages/WGHRandtransnationalcorporationsandotherbusiness.aspx
(*) Read the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Business/Pages/Tools.aspx
Learn more about the UN Forum on Business and Human Rights: http://www-stage.lan.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Business/Pages/ForumonBusinessandHR2012.aspx
Watch the Hangout on the Forum on Business and Human Rights: http://youtu.be/QLQ8-Lft870
For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts:
Xabier Celaya, UN Human Rights – Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9383 / firstname.lastname@example.org)
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Check the Universal Human Rights Index: http://uhri.ohchr.org/en
Sunday, 25 November 2012 13:39
The Clean Clothes Campaign, along with trade unions and labour rights organisations in Bangladesh and around the world is calling for immediate action from international brands following yesterday's fire in Dhaka Bangladesh, which cost the lives over one hundred garment workers.
The killed and injured workers were producing garments for international clothing brands when their factory, Tazreen Fashions, went up in flames. According to their website Tazreen produced for a host of well known brand names including C&A, Carrefour, KIK and Walmart. The Clean Clothes Campaign believes that international brands have shown ongoing negligence in failing to address the safety issues highlighted by previous fires, and that this leaves them with responsibility for yet another tragic loss of life.
Many of the workers jumped to their deaths trying to escape from the six story building, others, unable to escape the blaze, were burned alive. The death toll continues to rise as rescue workers plough through the remains of the devastated factory. One fire fighter at the scene reported that there wasn't a single fire exit on the outside of the factory. First reports suggest the fire was started by an electrical short circuit. The cause of over 80% of all factory fires in Bangladesh are due to faulty wiring.
"These brands have known for years that many of the factories they choose to work with are death traps. Their failure to take action amounts to criminal negligence"says Ineke Zeldenrust from the Clean Clothes Campaign.
Together with our partners in Bangladesh the CCC is calling call for an independent and transparent investigation into the causes of the fire, for full and fair compensation to be paid to the victims and their families and importantly concrete action from all parties involved to prevent future tragedies.
"As we yet again mourn the loss of scores of garment workers in Bangladesh, we demand that brands step up their game. Tragedy after tragedy underlines our belief that simple, cosmetic changes to existing programmes simply aren't enough. Action needs to be taken to address the root causes of these fires”said Ms Zeldenrust.
The CCC, together with local and global unions and labour rights organisations has developed a sector-wide program for action that includes an programme of independent and transparent inspections, an obligatory upgrading of the buildings supplying participating brands, a review of all existing laws and safety regulations, a commitment to pay prices that can cover the costs involved and the direct involvement of trade unions in worker training on health and safety. The Clean Clothes campaign is now renewing its demand for brands need to sign on immediately.
The employers and government of Bangladesh must also take their share of responsibility. The government must carry out an immediate investigation of the causes of the fire and prosecute those whose negligence has caused the death of these women and men. It must also invest in a country-wide programme of inspections to ensure that the buildings currently in use a fit for purpose and the buildings and wiring meet safety standards. All factory owners in Bangladesh must immediately review the safety procedures in place at their factories, carry out checks on he building and electrical safety and, most importantly, start working with trade unions to train their workers on safety procedures and allow space for workers to voice their concerns.
The Clean Campaign will continue to work with out partners on the ground to establish the full facts of the case and to push for justice for those affected by this terrible tragedy. In the meantime we call on all those with a stake in Bangladesh garment industry to move on from mere hand wringing and towards meaningful and concrete action to prevent such a horrific loss of life from happening in the future.
This video is composed of interviews made with a former garment worker, now worker organizer Kalpona Akter from Bangladesh. She talks about the conditions of garment workers and her experiences. I made this video for Clean Clothes Campaign. It is the first part of the series ''Stories from the Garment Industry''.