Regional Meeting on Business and Human Rights Education in Bangkok
From 10-13 June 2019, the 3rd Regional Meeting on Business and Human Rights Education was organized in Bangkok by SHAPE SEA and NCHR, gathering 35 participants from North and South East Asia.
Groups picture of participants (Photo:UIO)
The meeting was considered an eye-opener for the teachers with no business background. The participants also joined several events at the Bangkok Business and Human Rights Week, such as the OECD Forum on Responsible Business and Human Rights, and the Asia Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) Dialogue on Business and Human Rights.
Business and human rights education
Understanding business and human rights is important in a global economy. Several speakers pointed out that many well known and tragic examples happened when businesses do not respect human rights, and some businesses are directly or indirectly involved in human rights violations every day. For example, they may discriminate women and people with disabilities in the workplace, or one of their suppliers extended value chain is using forced labour.
All these issues suggest that human rights will only become a more salient issue for businesses in the future. It is important to ensure that scholars at universities conduct research on this topic and have the competence to educate students as well as other stakeholders by empowering them to recognise and engage with human rights issues in the business sector.
Growing need for business and human rights education
According to the participants, there are few courses on business and human rights available for stakeholders in Asia, and few academic courses at Asian universities. One participants said that in the course they teach, topics related to human rights have been addressed, but the term ‘human rights’ has been absent.
The participants agreed that there is a growing demand for business and human rights education. They exchanged their experience with teaching and conducting research on business and human rights, including creating the course, selecting topics, identifying academic material and writing a business and human rights textbook in line with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights in 2011.
This meeting connected human rights teachers and researchers from China, North Asia and South East Asia, and established contacts useful for the promotion of business and human rights education. Participants gained a better understanding of the priority issues under the Responsible Business Conduct and Business and Human Rights Agenda.