Business and Human Rights in Asia

Enabling Sustainable Economic Growth through the Protect, Respect and Remedy Framework

As part of UNDP's wider B+HR Asia programme, the European Union (EU) and the Government of Sweden have partnered with United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to promote the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights in Asia. This web-based platform provides updates and an introduction to the EU-supported project, B+HR Asia: Enabling Sustainable Economic Development through the Protect, Respect and Remedy Framework.

Asia has long been synonymous with economic dynamism.

Over the last several decades, new industries have taken root, employment rates and incomes have risen, and hundreds of millions of people have been lifted out of poverty. More recently, these gains have been put at risk, and in some countries fully reversed, with the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The tragic consequences of the pandemic in Asia—lost lives, redundancies, and scarcity of essential goods and services—have also raised awareness of the vagaries and fragility of our globalized economy, precisely at a time when trade and investment discussions are at their most contentious.

The relationship between business and society are being considered closely, and expectations are rising quickly for greater respect for human rights in business operations and supply chains. In this moment, attention is turning to the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs), the world’s most authoritative, normative framework for promoting responsible business practices, to provide a way forward.

The Project

B+HR Asia: Enabling Sustainable Economic Development through the Protect, Respect and Remedy Framework supports the implementation of the UNGPs in close partnership with Asian governments, business, and civil society, through dialogue, training, research, small grant provision and awareness raising activities.  

In so doing, the joint EU-UNDP action aims to strengthen human rights conditions in business operations and supply chains, facilitating sustainable economic growth while promoting multilateralism.

The action is complemented by the Promoting Responsible Business Practices through Regional Partnerships project funded by the Government of Sweden.

EU-UNDP Partnership

The European Union finances the action under the Partnership Instrument with €6.5 million to promote values shared by both the EU and UNDP.  These values include greater levels of equality, respect for human rights, democracy and the rule of law.

The European Union is committed to the business and human rights agenda to support responsible trade, investment and business practices in Europe and around the world.
Hilde Hardeman, Head of the European Commission's Service for Foreign Policy Instruments || Picture: © European Union / Photo: Basia Pawlik

UNDP is implementing the action through a project team of eleven full-time staff and with the support of a word-wide network of experts in the area of business and human rights. 

We are making a tangible impact in the region by enhancing human rights conditions and creating a more level playing field for business operating responsibly.
Livio Sarandrea, Business and Human Rights Advisor, UNDP Asia-Pacific region

The European Union finances the action with €6.5 million to promote values shared by both the EU and UNDP.  These values include greater levels of equality, respect for human rights, democracy and the rule of law.

The European Union is committed to the business and human rights agenda to support responsible trade, investment and business practices in Europe and around the world. 
Hilde Hardeman, Head of the European Commission's Service for Foreign Policy Instruments Picture: © European Union / Photo: Basia Pawlik

UNDP is implementing the action through a project team of eleven full-time staff and with the support of a word-wide network of experts in the area of business and human rights. 

We are making a tangible impact in the region by enhancing human rights conditions and creating a more level playing field for business operating responsibly.
Livio Sarandrea, Business and Human Rights Advisor, UNDP Asia-Pacific region

Our Goals

B+HR Asia will reach its objectives through four component workstreams:

1 Awareness raising of the UNGPs and peer-to-peer exchange on lessons learned among key stakeholders to build knowledge and political will in furtherance of policy convergence.

2 Communication and public diplomacy efforts to build public support of the business and human rights agenda.

3 Promotion of access to remedy to ensure rights-based solutions and to prevent future human rights abuses.

4 Knowledge sharing to foster action addressing the adverse role of business operations on the environment, climate and human rights.

B+HR Asia will reach its objectives through four component workstreams:

1 Awareness raising of the UNGPs and peer-to-peer exchange on lessons learned among key stakeholders to build knowledge and political will in furtherance of policy convergence.

2 Communication and public diplomacy efforts to build public support of the business and human rights agenda.

3 Promotion of access to remedy to ensure rights-based solutions and to prevent future human rights abuses.

4 Knowledge sharing to foster action addressing the adverse role of business operations on the environment, climate and human rights.

Where we work

The project is carried out over a period of 48 months, from January 2020 to December 2023, in seven Asian countries: India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mongolia, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, and Thailand.   

Full time National Specialists located in Country Offices work in partnership with local stakeholders to effectuate delivery.

During the project period, UNDP Country Offices will prioritize activities based on annual Business and Human Rights workplans specific to each country, prioritizing the most pressing issues and responding to the needs of local communities. 

Programming highlights

In Mongolia, B+HR Asia provides technical support to the government in developing a National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights, supports civil society actors working with human rights defenders, and promotes women's equal participation and leadership in business.

In India, the project team is engaging the business sector on human rights due diligence practice and supporting civil society through small grants. The team is also supporting the Ministry of Corporate Affairs in the development of the country’s National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights.

In Sri Lanka, the team is raising awareness of the adverse impacts business operations are having on women, girls and the environment. The team is also featuring companies that have embraced business solutions with a human rights focus.

In Myanmar, the team is producing a series of videos, radio spots, podcasts, and other materials to raise community awareness of the relationship between business activity and land acquisition. Programming is on hold given current political circumstances in the country.

In Thailand, the team is promoting business and human rights through a series or consultations and awareness raising activities. Supporting these activities, B+HR Asia is undertaking research on Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation and on the needs of human rights defenders.

In Malaysia, the team is supporting the government in developing a National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights through training, and stakeholder consultations. Support to a National Baseline Assessment will inform discussions. B+HR Asia is also conducting research on the impact of COVID-19 on business and human rights in Malaysia.

In Indonesia, the team promotes human rights due diligence in business operations and access to remedy with a focus on vulnerable groups like women, children, people with disabilities and indigenous people. The Country Office is also supporting the development of the government’s National Strategy on Business and Human Rights.

Watch this video to learn more about our work in these countries.

The project is carried out over a period of 48 months, from January 2020 to December 2023, in seven Asian countries: India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mongolia, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, and Thailand.   

Full time National Specialists located in Country Offices work in partnership with local stakeholders to effectuate delivery.

During the project period, UNDP Country Offices will prioritize activities based on annual Business and Human Rights workplans specific to each country, prioritizing the most pressing issues and responding to the needs of local communities. 

Programming highlights

In Mongolia, B+HR Asia provides technical support to the government in developing a National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights, supports civil society actors working with human rights defenders, and promotes women's equal participation and leadership in business.

In India, the project team is engaging the business sector on human rights due diligence practice and supporting civil society through small grants. The team is also supporting the Ministry of Corporate Affairs in the development of the country’s National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights.

In Sri Lanka, the team is raising awareness of the adverse impacts business operations are having on women, girls and the environment. The team is also featuring companies that have embraced business solutions with a human rights focus.

In Myanmar, the team is producing a series of videos, radio spots, podcasts, and other materials to raise community awareness of the relationship between business activity and land acquisition. Programming is on hold given current political circumstances in the country.

In Thailand, the team is promoting business and human rights through a series or consultations and awareness raising activities. Supporting these activities, B+HR Asia is undertaking research on Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation and on the needs of human rights defenders.

In Malaysia, the team is supporting the government in developing a National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights through training, and stakeholder consultations. Support to a National Baseline Assessment will inform discussions. B+HR Asia is also conducting research on the impact of COVID-19 on business and human rights in Malaysia.

In Indonesia, the team promotes human rights due diligence in business operations and access to remedy with a focus on vulnerable groups like women, children, people with disabilities and indigenous people. The Country Office is also supporting the development of the government’s National Strategy on Business and Human Rights.

Watch this video to learn more about our work in these countries.

What we offer

To Governments

States have a duty to protect workers and communities from business-related human rights abuses by taking appropriate steps to prevent, investigate and redress human rights abuses through effective policies, legislation regulation and enforcement action.

B+HR Asia provides technical support to governments and convenes stakeholders to enhance the drafting and implementation of National Action Plans and other policy instruments.

How do we do this?

UNDP’s B+HR Asia: Promoting Responsible Business Practices through Regional Partnerships project—funded by the Government of Sweden—supported the development of Thailand's National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights. EU-supported action will assist the government with implementation.

To Business

Businesses demonstrate respect for human rights by understanding the human rights risks their operations and supply chain partners pose, and preventing, mitigating, and remedying any adverse impacts. Businesses can better address human rights risks and impacts by conducting human rights due diligence.  

Conduction human rights due diligence also reduces reputational and operational risks. 

B+HR Asia provides guidance and training on human rights due diligence to encourage companies operating in Asia to conduct human rights impact assessments and apply responsible business practices. 

How do we do this?

The B+HR Asia has designed a simple and accessible tool titled Human Rights Due Diligence and COVID-19: Rapid Self-Assessment for Business—available in nine languages—to help businesses consider and manage the human rights impacts of their operations.

To Civil Society

Civil Society is central to bringing the UNGPs to life, facilitating consultations with affected communities and monitoring the implementation of strategic policy instruments on business and human rights.

For many years now, Civil Society Organizations in Asia have been drawing attention to business-related human rights abuses, while supporting communities and providing early warnings of emerging risks.

B+HR Asia provides convening platforms, partnership opportunities and support to amplify the voice of civil society and raise awareness of risks and adverse impacts of business operations on human rights.

How do we do this?

B+HR Asia conducted a COVID-19 impact analysis among Civil Society Organizations to ensure programme activities respond to the most pressing needs of affected communities.

Case in Point – Thailand

Tarinee Suravoranon, Business and Human Rights National Specialist

To Governments

States have a duty to protect workers and communities from business-related human rights abuses by taking appropriate steps to prevent, investigate and redress human rights abuses through effective policies, legislation regulation and enforcement action.

B+HR Asia provides technical support to governments and convenes stakeholders to enhance the drafting and implementation of National Action Plans and other policy instruments.

How do we do this?

UNDP’s B+HR Asia: Promoting Responsible Business Practices through Regional Partnerships project—funded by the Government of Sweden—supported the development of Thailand's National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights. EU-supported action will assist the government with implementation.

To Business

Businesses demonstrate respect for human rights by understanding the human rights risks their operations and supply chain partners pose, and preventing, mitigating, and remedying any adverse impacts. Businesses can better address human rights risks and impacts by conducting human rights due diligence.  

Conducting human rights due diligence also reduces reputational and operational risks. 

B+HR Asia provides guidance and training on human rights due diligence to encourage companies operating in Asia to conduct human rights impact assessments and apply responsible business practices. 

How do we do this?

The B+HR Asia has designed a simple and accessible tool titled Human Rights Due Diligence and COVID-19: Rapid Self-Assessment for Business—available in nine languages—to help businesses consider and manage the human rights impacts of their operations.

To Civil Society

Civil Society is central to bringing the UNGPs to life, facilitating consultations with affected communities and monitoring the implementation of strategic policy instruments on business and human rights.

For many years now, Civil Society Organizations in Asia have been drawing attention to business-related human rights abuses, while supporting communities and providing early warnings of emerging risks.

B+HR Asia provides convening platforms, partnership opportunities and support to amplify the voice of civil society and raise awareness of risks and adverse impacts of business operations on human rights.

How do we do this?

B+HR Asia conducted a COVID-19 impact analysis among Civil Society Organizations to ensure programme activities respond to the most pressing needs of affected communities.

Case in Point – Thailand

Tarinee Suravoranon, Business and Human Rights National Specialist

Stay in touch

Sean Lees, Business and Human Rights Specialist & Project Manager, UNDP Asia-Pacific region

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