UNDP will work to improve human rights standards in business in 17 countries through a new project funded by the Government of Japan. By promoting the implementation of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, the initiative will better equip governments and companies to understand and act upon their duties and responsibilities to prevent abuses such as forced labor, land grabbing and discrimination.

The project will serve two main purposes. First, it will guide companies to carry out Human Rights Due Diligence (HRDD) to assess, prevent and mitigate adverse impacts. To achieve this, UNDP will support Japanese companies and their suppliers in managing human rights risks potentially associated with their operations. The companies will also benefit from this process, as businesses that demonstrate clean operations have clear advantages in placing their products on the market.

The second objective of the project is to help the 17 target countries develop policies to tackle business-related human rights abuses. UNDP will work with governments to create a level playing field that will motivate more companies to embrace responsible business practices. The project will be implemented by UNDP’s Country Offices in Ghana, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Mexico, Mongolia, Mozambique, Nepal, Pakistan, Peru, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine, Viet Nam. Training and guidance to Japanese companies will also be provided in Japan.

With this project, UNDP and Japan will further the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the 2030 Agenda. UNDP’s vast experience in implementing its Business and Human Rights initiative and promoting HRDD has proven that businesses of all sizes can be agents of positive change. As the development actor with the largest dedicated field presence in this thematic area, UNDP has supported businesses in tackling social justice issues, both within their operations and in advocating for wider policy and regulation changes.

“Businesses have a role to play in achieving the SDGs and meeting the targets set by the Paris Agreement,” said Asako Okai, Assistant Secretary-General, Assistant Administrator, and Director, Crisis Bureau, UNDP.  

“With this new project, UNDP and the Government of Japan join hands to support businesses in their efforts to comply with human rights standards, and to advocate with governments for better policies and legislation to protect rights and stimulate responsible businesses. In our current context, they also have potential to become engines of just recovery from COVID-19, including in fragile and crisis-affected contexts. To build forward better, we need concerted and urgent action,” said ASG Okai.

The project will be implemented through UNDP’s Global Programme for Rule of Law, Human Rights, Justice and Security for Sustainable Peace and Development (the Global Programme)  in coordination with partners active in the field of responsible business such as UN Human Rights Office (OHCHR), International Labour Organization (ILO) and Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

This new initiative complements UNDP’s continuous work on Business and Human Rights. Since 2016, UNDP has supported the implementation of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs) with a focus on Asia and the Pacific, and with support from the Government of Sweden and the European Union.

In 2020, this regional programme scaled up its operations. At this moment, 26 UNDP country offices in five regions are working with governments, businesses and civil society organizations, with support from the EU, Japan and Sweden among others. UNDP provides technical assistance for the development and implementation of National Action Plans on business and human rights, advises companies on the conduct of Human Rights Due Diligence processes and promotes access to remedies for victims of human rights abuses by businesses.

For additional information, please contact:

Livio Sarandrea, Global Adviser, Business and Human Rights, livio.sarandrea@undp.org.

Sinisa Milatovic, Policy Specialist, Business and Human Rights, Sinisa.milatovic@undp.org

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