Broad recognition for multi-stakeholder initiatives at UN Forum
An exchange of good examples of cooperation in multi-stakeholder initiatives (MSIs) facilitated by States to promote respect for human rights inspired many participants at the UN Forum on Business and Human Rights in Geneva on November 27.
The Social and Economic Council organised this session to discuss the effectiveness and lessons learned from such multi-stakeholder initiatives. The session welcomed a diverse group of participants representing many countries to learn about existing MSIs and to discuss how collaboration between MSIs can be strengthened.
Good examples shared on multi-stakeholder initiatives
A panel, consisting of Maylis Souque (Ministry of Economy, France), Daniel Sakyi Asiedu (Ministry of Employment & Labour Relations, Ghana), Anna-Lena Klassen (Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, Germany), David Maenaut (Delegate-General, Mission of Belgium, Delegation of Flanders) and Alexandra van Selm (Social and Economic Council, the Netherlands), shared their examples with the audience. Dante Pesce of the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights chaired the meeting. The UN Working Group considers the Dutch implementation of International RBC agreements as a good and promising example of MSIs following a look into different initiatives worldwide, and should be scaled up. There was a broad support from the panel for the recognition and promotion of MSIs as part of the smart mix of policies States should adopt to promote responsible business conduct.
Alignment international guidelines
On the basis of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, governments expect companies to do business with respect for human rights and the environment. As part of the State’s duty to protect, governments have acted as catalysts for driving business respect for human rights by taking measures, including those that promote and facilitate MSIs.
The panel and participants of the UN Forum session called for an assessment of MSIs against the OECD Guidelines so as to ensure their eligibility as appropriate schemes that help companies meet responsible business conduct (RBC) expectations. There was also a call for a more structural exchange between MSIs to learn from and build on each other’s experiences. More engagement with EU institutions, OECD and relevant UN agencies would also help to advance the impact of MSIs.
The panel members shall follow-up to ascertain areas where their respective initiatives can collaborate to enhance their envisaged goals.
Multi-stakeholder initiative in the Netherlands
In the Netherlands, the international RBC agreements are examples of multi-stakeholder initiatives that facilitate business respect for human rights. These agreements consist of structural partnerships between businesses, government, unions and NGOs. Together, these partners work to prevent and address human rights and environmental standards violations such as worker exploitation, animal suffering and environmental pollution. Through the collaboration, the partners also increases their collective leverage to be able address issues which they otherwise cannot effectively tackle individually. Learn more about the Dutch Agreements on International RBC via www.internationalrbc.org.