Monthly Meeting Report: March 24, 2014

Categories: Monthly Meeting Reports

 

Brief Report on the March 2014 Monthly Knowledge Sharing and Networking Meeting

 

Theme: From Principles to Practice: The Protect, Respect and Remedy Framework

Date: 24th March 2014

Hosted by: Jindal Stainless Limited (JSL)

Venue: Jindal Stainless Limited, Jindal Centre, 12 Bhikaji Cama Place, New Delhi-110066

Speakers: Brig. Rajiv Williams, Corporate Head – CSR, Jindal Stainless Limited

Ms. Caroline Rees, President, Shift & Former Lead Advisor to the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Business and Human Rights

Mr. Pooran Chandra Pandey, Executive Director, Global Compact Network India

Number of Participants: 42

 

Global Compact Network India’s Monthly Knowledge Sharing and Networking meeting for the month of March 2014 was hosted by Jindal Stainless Limited on the theme ‘From Principles to Practice: The Protect, Respect and Remedy Framework’ on 24th March 2014. The meeting witnessed a presentation on the theme ‘From Principles to Practice: The Protect, Respect and Remedy Framework’ by Brig. Rajiv Williams, Corporate Head – CSR, Jindal Stainless Limited and a special address by Ms. Caroline Rees, President, Shift & Former  Lead Advisor to the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Business and Human Rights.

 

The ‘Protect Respect Remedy Framework’ is the outcome of the deliberation at the UN on the role of businesses in protecting the human rights of individuals, impacted by their operations. Maintaining international human rights standards have traditionally been the responsibility of governments, aimed at regulating relations between the State and individuals and groups. But with the increased role of corporates, nationally and internationally, the issue of business’ impact on human rights has received importance and has assumed a significant place in discussions and deliberations. The United Nations Global Compact, which is the world’s largest corporate responsibility and sustainability initiative, has also included human rights agenda in its mandate. This mandate draws its basis from the ‘Protect, Respect and Remedy’ Framework developed by Harvard Professor John Ruggie, who was appointed by the then Secretary General in 2005, Kofi Annan, to clarify the roles and responsibilities of states, companies and other social actors in the business and human rights sphere.

The meeting began with a welcome address by Brig. Rajiv Williams, and was followed by a presentation on Global Compact Network India’s and Jindal Stainless Limited’s initiative to promote and encourage Human Rights in business. Brig William’s emphasized on the changing approach of the business. He mentioned that previously businesses were driven by profit motive, with little or no initiatives to perform the responsibilities toward employees and society. But with the gradual opening up of the economies  and the gradual progression towards becoming a ‘global village’, businesses need to adopt the idea of ‘inclusion’ (including all its stakeholders be it vendor, employees or society at large) in their operations and, therefore also work toward ensuring that its employees, vendors, community and other stakeholders are not adversely impacted. This has led to the initiations of various global coalitions to ensure that the business becomes responsible towards the society and performs their responsibilities. One such initiative is United Nations Global Compact (UNGC), which endorses human rights, labour, environment and anti corruption. He highlighted the Ten Universal Principles, especially the principles on Human Rights, which are

 

  • Principle 1: Businesses should support and respect the protection of internationally proclaimed human rights; and
  • Principle 2: make sure that they are not complicit in human rights abuses.

 

He also highlighted in his presentation the work carried out by the India CEO Forum on Business and Human Rights, an initiative of the Global Compact Network India to promote Human Rights in Business. The India CEO Forum on Business and Human Rights exists to advance human rights in the business context among Indian Corporates, Companies and Business Houses having operations in India and aboard, and works towards establishing India as a global leader in this critical and valuable area of responsible business. He also remarked that the ‘Protect Respect Remedy Framework’, developed by Prof. Ruggie, is a solution oriented framework that enables companies to find solutions to Human Rights issues in their businesses. While presenting about Jindal’s initiative to incorporate Human Rights, Brig. Williams noted that Jindal Stainless is the first steel plant in India to employ women workers and assure them equal right to work in a steel plant, which for long has been dominated by men.

 

The presentation was followed by a special address by Ms. Caroline Rees, who presented in detail the ‘Protect, Respect and Remedy’ Framework. She stressed that the UN ‘Protect, Respect and Remedy’ Framework describes what companies are required to do to ensure respect for human rights throughout their operations, and the guiding principles details about how companies can know and show that they respect human rights in practice. These guiding principles establish a global standard on the respective roles of businesses and governments, to help ensure that companies respect human rights in their own operations and engagements.

 

In her presentation, she stressed that the ‘Protect, Respect and Remedy’ Framework rests on three pillars:

 

  1. The state duty to protect against human rights abuses from third parties, including business, through policies, regulation, and adjudication.

The first pillar of the guiding principles is the state’s duty to protect against human rights abuses, including those by business enterprises, through regulation, policymaking, investigation, and enforcement. This pillar reaffirms states’ existing obligations under international human rights law, as put forth in the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

 

  1. The corporate responsibility to respect human rights, implementing due diligence to avoid infringement and address adverse impacts.

The corporate responsibility to respect human rights indicates that businesses must act with due diligence to avoid infringing on the rights of others and to address negative impacts, which they may have. The second pillar offers a process for companies to both ‘know and show’ that they are meeting this responsibility, by which they become aware of, prevent and address their adverse human rights impacts.

 

  1. Access to effective remedy for victims of human rights abuses.

The third pillar addresses both the state’s responsibility to provide access to remedy through judicial, administrative and legislative means, and the corporate responsibility to prevent and remediate any infringement of rights that they contribute to. Having effective grievance mechanisms in place is crucial in upholding the state’s duty to protect and the corporates’ responsibility to respect.

 

The meeting ended with the vote of thanks by Mr. Pooran Chandra Pandey, Executive Director, Global compact Network India, who stated that Human Rights is not restricted to two principles as is included within the Global Compact Principles, rather it cuts across the Ten Universal Principles. He also highlighted key findings of the UNGC- Accenture CEO Study on Sustainability 2013: Insights of the CEOs within the Global Compact, which include the stress by the India Companies to find solutions through active participation by the communities involved.