LOUD WHISPERS| UN guiding principles on business, human rights

NOT ALL THE stakeholders like the business sector in our country, the government, NGOs, security sector, the communities and individual rights holders, know that there are guidelines that should be followed in dealing with Human Rights regardless of the size, nature and context of operation of a business enterprise.

In this regard, the Commission on Human Rights in the Philippines hopes to start a platform for dialogue on Business and Human Rights.

This dialogue, according to the primer of the UN Dev’t Programme (UNDP) should be disseminated to provide an understanding of the Respect, Protect and Remedy framework of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.

I guess this is very related and significant to cases on Human Rights in the Philippines like that so-called fire accident that killed a number of factory workers in Caloocan City months ago. That incident created chaos and despair among the bereaved families of the victims who were mostly breadwinners of their own families.

Personally, I don’t have yet an idea what really happened with the demands of the bereaved families that justice should prevail on dealing with the case. I believe that whether it was arson or incident that caused the fire should be dealt with accordingly. I believe too, that this so-called Human Rights and the Employers’ or Stakeholders’ Responsibilities should be seriously considered in processing the claims of the bereaved families.

Thus, the major work of all stakeholders is extensive popularization and dissemination of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.

Although the primer says that the Framework does not impose or prescribe new legal obligation upon the business sector or the state, but it draws from existing body of HR norms, principles or practices which both the State and the business could follow as universal guidelines in dealing with HR cases.

The main guiding principle which I think should not be debated upon is, “Respect to Human Rights.”

As this development on making the public aware and making them understand the principles on human rights on the state and the business, I guess we should also be more concerned with the Mining Sector where our country generates much revenues from the mining sector.

Even our President expressed his belief that our country has vast mineral resources and many more are untapped. “Our mining sources have the world’s largest deposits of gold, nickel, copper and chromite. Through responsible mining, we intend to generate more revenues from the extraction of these resources,” he added.

We can point to some cases on violations committed by some mining industries in the Philippines.

With these incidents happenings, and more, economic analysts believed that business should not be business as usual when human rights of individuals and communities are adversely affected or placed at risk due to the operations and activities of business enterprises regardless of the industry and context of its operation.

Therefore, how should the country or state protect individual rights in relation to abuses that may be committed by corporation or business enterprises?

The primer says that the state or country has the duty to protect the individual rights holders against HR abuses with its territory, and/or jurisdiction by 3rd parties including business enterprises by taking appropriate steps to prevent, investigate, punish and redress such abuse through effective policies. (Ref: A Primer on the UN’s Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights) …. (FVS)

Posted in Opinion