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Vietnam attends Responsible Business and Human Rights Forum
Phi Khanh 17:59, 2021/06/02
The annual regional forum has urged a renewed commitment from business and governments to accelerate progress towards the achievement of the global development goals.

Leaders and organizations of Vietnam and many countries have discussed and raised initiatives to address serious concerns about social justice and development priorities.

 Delegates attend the session "Business and Human Rights in the Digital Era" on June 1. Screenshot: Phi Khanh

The UN Responsible Business and Human Rights Forum in Asia Pacific, held online until June 4, draws the participation of more than 2,000 delegates from governments, businesses, civil society organizations and workers’ groups. 

Over 46 scheduled panel sessions featuring more than 200 experts will assess progress and responses to business and human rights challenges. At the sessions, the delegates discuss eradicating the worst forms of child labor, eliminating violence and harassment in supply chains and ensuring women’s empowerment to create more inclusive value chains, among others. 

On June 1 noon, the second session themed “2021 International Year: Regaining the Lost Momentum in the Fight Against Child Labor” highlighted policy and practical challenges faced by employers, workers, and governments in the elimination of child labor, especially in the current crisis. 

Tran Thi Lan Anh, Director General of Bureau for Employer Activities under the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry, underlined that different methods should be taken to eliminate child labor in supply chains in the process of global integration as well as to involve stakeholders, associations, enterprises and policymakers in the process. 

“Stakeholders must hold dialogues to exchange and propose suitable forms which encourages the cooperation from the main partners of Vietnam to solve current challenges,” she said. 

The panelists also agreed the need to disseminate to the world their recommendations on elimination of child labor from regional to international levels, as well as among governmental and non-governmental bodies.

At the event, regional heads from eight UN organizations released a joint video statement calling for the “principled collaboration of business and the international community,” to address growing gaps in social justice, public health and environmental progress. 

The UN leaders urged delegates at this year’s the forum to take “tangible, meaningful steps” on responsible business practices, women’s empowerment, protection of migrants’ rights, climate action, human rights due diligence and the use of data in the monitoring of international standards on labor and the environment. 

“Let us commit to action for an economic development that is inclusive and safeguards our environment,” the statement said. 

The event comes as many nations in the Asia Pacific region are grappling with the serious public health and economic consequences of a damaging phase in the pandemic. Discussions will also revolve around on the impact of Covid-19 on progress toward the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. 

While the pandemic has highlighted pre-existing protection gaps, the Forum will also examine a wider context of issues relating to responsible business, including climate change and environmental degradation, biodiversity loss, rising inequality, shrinking civic space and lack of accountability, among others. The need for structural and systemic change to realize sustainable development for all has become increasingly urgent. 

The forum takes place on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights - considered a foundational guide to global human rights standards for business. 

Hosts of the forum include the International Labor Organization (ILO), the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), and the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights (UNWG).

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