Conference of National Human Rights Institutions, Oct 2010

10th International Conference of NHRIs on "Business and Human Rights" (Edinburgh, 8-10 Oct 2010)

The 10th International Conference of the International Coordinating Committee of National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) "Human Rights and Business: The Role of NHRIs" was held from 8-10 October 2010 in Edinburgh, Scotland.  The Conference was hosted by the Scottish Human Rights Commission and took place in the Scottish Parliament.  A number of parallel events were held, including a pre-conference NGO Forum.

The Conference closed with the adoption of the "Edinburgh Declaration".

Conference programme & general materials related to the main conference

Conference programme: English French Spanish Arabic

Scottish Human Rights Commission website: “10th International Conference of National Human Rights Institutions”
“Delegates from over 80 countries including national human rights institutions (NHRIs), international and regional experts, United Nations officials, government representatives, civil society and business organisations discussed and debated human rights issues on the theme of Business and Human Rights, and the role national institutions can play in improving human rights in a globalised world...

Keynote speakers included Navi Pillay, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and Professor John Ruggie, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Business and Human Rights. Mary Robinson, the former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights also delivered keynote remarks at the event."

Videos and text of presentations by keynote speakers
- presentation by Mary Robinson in French

National Human Rights Institutions Forum website: “10th International Conference of NHRIs on ‘Business and Human Rights’”
Includes links to the following materials (in English, French, Spanish, Arabic):
- Invitation letter
- Information note (logistics, travel, and registration form)
Individual Papers:
- Corporate Responsibility and Human Rights (Australia)
- Doing Business in High Risk human rights environments (Denmark)
- Promoting and Protecting Human Rights in the Corporate Sector (Cameroon)
- Access to a remedy for corporate human rights abuses (Uganda)
- Corporate responsibility (UK)
- New Challenges and New Chances for NHRIs (Korea)
Background Papers:
- Concept Note
Thematic Papers:
- Working Towards Regional Action Plans: Optional Framework
- Thematic Paper on Human Trafficking
- Thematic Paper on Child Labour and Young Workers
- Thematic Paper on Safe and Healthy Environment
- Thematic Paper on Privatisation and Public Procurement

"Respecting human rights is the business of all our companies", Allan Miller, Chair, Scottish Human Rights Commission, in Scotsman, 4 Oct 2010
"This weekend the Scottish Human Rights Commission hosts the 10th International Conference of National Human Rights Institutions...[bringing] together around 80 human rights commissions from around the world...The theme of the conference - business and human rights - has emerged as a critical challenge to the international legal framework...The past decade has seen many initiatives to make it the norm that rights are respected in the day to day behaviour of firms towards employees, individuals and communities. This now needs to be scaled up in a more coherent and consistent way."

Big business must clean up its act says human rights chief”, Mark Smith and Carolyn Churchill, Herald (Scotland), 3 Oct 2010
“One of the world’s most respected human rights campaigners, Mary Robinson, will visit Scotland this week to warn big business it must stop eroding human rights around the globe and instead help change the lives of ordinary people for the better. The former Irish president and ex-UN High Commissioner for Human Rights will demand improved living and working conditions for the poorest members of society, and insist on global corporate responsibility, at the International Conference of National Human Rights Institutions at the Scottish Parliament from Thursday to Sunday. Human rights commissions, charities and academics from 80 countries will discuss child labour, human trafficking, environmental degradation and the impact of privatisation, before they sign the Edinburgh Declaration, which Robinson hopes will kick-start national and international action to hold big business to account.”

Edinburgh Declaration

"Edinburgh Declaration adopted", Scottish Human Rights Commission, 10 Oct  2010
"Human rights institutions from around the world have called for action on corporate abuse of human rights to be stepped up. Representatives from around 80 countries attending the 10th International Conference of National Human Rights Institutions in Edinburgh made the call in the “Edinburgh Declaration” to mark the end of the conference...The Declaration calls for more national and international monitoring of businesses’ compliance with human rights law, that advice should be given to companies, governments, campaigners and individuals about corporate responsibility, and that institutions themselves have an important role to play in supporting companies and victims of potential human rights violations."

The Edinburgh Declaration
"The NHRIs here assembled agree:
- To actively consider how their mandates under the Paris Principles can be applied, or where necessary strengthened, in order to promote and protect human rights as they relate to business...
- To proactively consider new ways in which NHRIs’ mandates can be used to advance the “protect, respect and remedy” framework while recognising the need for its further development and alignment with international human rights standards.
- To call on the SRSG [UN Special Representative on business & human rights] in his Guiding Principles to recognise the centrality of NHRIs in business and human rights under all three pillars of the “protect, respect, remedy framework”.
- To urge States to identify and establish a properly resourced focal point within the UN to provide guidance and support capacity building as recommended by the SRSG (UN Doc A/HRC/14/27).
- To broaden NHRIs’ activities...
- To renew efforts to work collaboratively with NGOs and civil society in implementing NHRIs’ mandates as regards business and human rights..."

NGO and Civil Society Forum

7 October, Edinburgh City Chambers. Hosted by Office of the High Commission for Human Rights and the Scottish Human Rights Commission.

“The overall theme of the Conference and the NGO Forum is ‘Business & Human Rights: The Role of National Human Rights Institutions.’  The NGO Forum will provide an opportunity for NGOs to share experiences  regarding the topic, including the role of NHRIs.  The results of the Forum will be shared in the Conference itself, where there will be opportunities for the participation of a number of NGO representatives.”

Concept note
“The main objectives of the NGO Forum are the following:
- To share experiences and knowledge about effective strategies to address human rights issues in the context of business operations, including strategies involving NHRIs
- To identify key issues that would need to be addressed by both NGOs and NHRIs to more effectively protect and promote human rights in the context of business activities
- To contribute to an enhanced role of NHRIs in the promotion and protection of human rights in the context of business activities compatible with the Paris Principles and the requirements of international human rights principles.”

Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) website: “International Human Rights conference – Edinburgh October 2010”
“A parallel NGO Forum will take place on the 7th October 2010…This is a unique event with opportunity to discuss and debate issues of business and human rights with organisations from across the globe…Several of the NGO Forum participants have sent summaries of the work they are doing and the issues they are concerned with: OLIPAD, based in Tanzania: NHRI NGO Forum – OLIPAD Written Submission; Participatory Research and Action Network -PRAN – Bangladesh written submission for the NGO Forum: Steps towards a pluralist society; CEADESC – Bolivia – Jorge Cortés F Submission ICC 2010; Korean House for International Solidarity – Presentation_Summary_in_ICC_NGO_FORUM; International Women and Mining Network – paper OHCHR"

Final Statement of the NGO Forum to the Biennal Conference: "Building a strategic partnership between NGOs and NHRIs on business and human rights"
"This statement presents recommendations of the NGO Forum for the purpose of enabling NHRIs, their regional groupings, and the International Coordinating Committee of NHRIs (ICC) to more effectively promote and protect human rights in the context of business activities. During our discussions, we highlighted key essential requirements for NHRIs with regard to their independence, capacity, and willingness to engage with human rights defenders...Key priorities...Reinforcing the state’s duty to protect...Empowering the victims of corporate abuses and protecting human rights defenders...Institutionalizing NHRI exchanges and interactions with civil society..."

Side event: “Revising the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises: What role for NHRIs?”

9 October, Scottish Parliament.  Hosted by Intl. Coordinating Committee of NHRIs (ICC) Working Group on Business and Human Rights.

Danish Institute for Human Rights website: “Panel Discussion on OECD Guidelines”
“The ICC Working Group on Business and Human Rights will host a panel event on the current review of the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises on Saturday 9 October 2010, from 1330-1500h, as a side event to the 10th ICC Biennial International Conference of National Human Rights Institutions…

Event flyer
Moderator: Dr Jonas Christoffersen, Director, Danish Institute for Human Rights; Chair, ICC Working Group on Business and Human Rights
Panel contributions:
- Dr Roel Nieuwenkamp, Chair of the Working Party for the OECD Guidelines Review, OECD Investment Committee
- Tricia Feeney, RAID (Rights and Accountability in Development) and founding member of the NGO umbrella, OECD Watch
- Dr Judy McGregor, EEO Commissioner, New Zealand Human Rights Commission”
- Med S.K. Kaggwa, Uganda Human Rights Commission"

Seminar: “Business Schools, the professions and human rights: making the connections”

7 October, Edinburgh City Chambers.  Hosted by University of Glasgow Business School and Scottish Human Rights Commission.

Scottish Human Rights Commission website
“This half-day seminar on 7 October will bring together academic and professional communities with the Scottish Human Rights Commission, to explore how to integrate human rights into business school curricula and professional education. This pioneering event will include discussion of national and international best practice and provide an important networking opportunity.”

Event flyer
“Chair: Professor Gillian Hogg, Heriot Watt University
- Professor Alan Miller, Chair, Scottish Human Rights Commission
- Ron Popper, Head of Corporate Responsibility, ABB
- Chris Marsden OBE, Chair of Trustees of the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre and Institute for Human Rights and Business
- Dr Nadia Bernaz, Middlesex University
- Professor Graeme Martin, University of Glasgow
- Professor Pauline Weetman, University of Edinburgh”

"Business and Human Rights Roundtable” meeting

7 October, Edinburgh City Chambers. Hosted by Scottish Human Rights Commission and UK Network of the UN Global Compact.

Scottish Human Rights Commission website
“This roundtable will gather together interested representatives from business, government, academic and voluntary sectors to explore key emerging developments in business and human rights in both an international and Scottish context. The event will consider the benefit of increased awareness of human rights for Scottish companies entering emerging markets in high-risk developing countries and will include a case study presentation on how risk was successfully turned into opportunity by a leading Scottish company.”

Event flyer
- Professor Alan Miller, Chair, Scottish Human Rights Commission, sets the scene and highlights current developments in the international and Scottish contexts.
- Andrew Cave, Chair UN Global Compact UK Network, and Head of Group Sustainability for Royal Bank of Scotland, introduces the work of the UN Global Compact.
- Case study presentation - ‘Managing Human Rights Risks: the learning experience of a leading Scottish company in an emerging market.’
- Roundtable – increasing awareness on how to best manage social and human rights risks overseas
- Roundtable – increasing awareness on how human rights are being integrated into the public procurement process within Scotland
- Q&A"

Workshop: "Monitoring states’ obligation to ‘fulfill’ economic, social and cultural rights: Methodologies for National Institutions"

9 October, Scottish Parliament.  Hosted by Center for Economic and Social Rights (CESR) and the Scottish Human Rights Commission.

Event flyer: English  Spanish  French
"Monitoring whether states are taking genuine “steps” to “progressively realize” economic, social and cultural rights (ESCR) to their 'maximum available resources' can be a challenge… The Center for Economic and Social Rights (CESR) is working, in partnership with the Kenyan National Commission on Human Rights, to assist NHRIs overcome this challenge…The workshop...provides a forum for NHRIs to contribute to the project. Panelists will share experiences on monitoring ESCR to prompt discussion about: How do NHRIs attempt to influence socioeconomic policy? What aspects of ESCR do NHRIs find most challenging? How can new approaches and working methods address these challenges?"