On 19 February 2021, the Foundation for International Human Rights Reporting Standards (FIHRRST) and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) successfully organized a dialogue on the current progress of mandatory Human Rights Due Diligence (HRDD) legislation, the key changes for businesses to anticipate, and how respect for human rights can contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
“The UN Guiding Principles call for businesses to respect human rights and require that they exercise due diligence?to identify, prevent, mitigate and account for how they address the impact on human rights. These guidelines aim to ensure that no child is forced into hard labour; no woman and man ever loses their dignity in performing their manual work,” said Mr. Norimasa Shimomura, Resident Representative of UNDP Indonesia in his opening remarks.
“It is imperative that corporations take the first step to draft sound policies that respect the human rights of all individuals involved in their businesses, from suppliers to end retailers. Every individual throughout the business and operational process must be treated fairly and without abuse of any kind” said Ms. Marina Berg, Ambassador of Sweden to Indonesia.”
This dialogue is a response to the growing mandatory human rights due diligence through legislation around the around. When the Dialogue was organized, France has issued French Corporate Duty of Vigilance Law that requires companies to establish, publish and implement a vigilance plan (that includes human rights due diligence aspects), the Netherlands has issued Child Labour Due Diligence Act while European Union (EU) is considering legislation on mandatory HRDD that is expected to be issued in 2021. Just two weeks after the Dialogue was carried out, Germany’s cabinet has approved a law on due-diligence to enforce the protection of human rights and environmental standards along global supply chains.
Marzuki Darusman, Chair of FIHRRST said, “embedding respect for human rights has now become a matter of urgency as countries are increasingly mandating through legislation that businesses must respect for human rights in their operations. In addition, investors and customers are also demanding that businesses respect human rights. There are increasing studies that show the ability of a corporation to attract capital from investors is greatly influenced by how effectively the corporation is seen to be managing its human rights risks. Thus, developing a multi-stakeholder HRDD community, bringing together global, national corporations and civil society actors will accelerate HRDD implementation in Indonesia.”
During the first session, three speakers representing France, Switzerland, and Norway embassies in Indonesia explained that more and more governments expect businesses to address their human rights impacts and require businesses to implement HRDD. In addition, a policy officer from European Coalition for Corporate Justice further emphasized that the EU Mandatory HRDD Legislation might demand more extensive legal requirements.
In the second session, companies’ representatives learned from their peers that respecting human rights, not only it is attainable, but also beneficial for companies. The panellists from L’Oréal, Unilever, PT Bumi Resources, Tbk., and Danone Indonesia shared their practices in embedding respect for human rights within their operations. These included promoting gender equality in the workplace, protecting vulnerable groups through abolishing child labour, as well as respecting indigenous rights. To advance respect for human rights by businesses, cooperation between relevant stakeholders is essential and mandatory HRDD through legislation is needed to level the playing field.
Prof. Makarim Wibisono, Co-founder of FIHRRST, later reminded that, “as we heard in today's discussion, conducting due diligence should not be viewed as a burden, but rather as an opportunity. It is believed to provide various benefits for companies. First, to prevent serious human rights violations through the identification of actual and potential human rights impacts. Second, to Increase the trust of stakeholders, including the public, customers, and investors, on the company's human rights commitments. Lastly, to enable and help national companies to become part of the global supply chain,”
“In addition, the implementation of HRDD in the near future is no longer an option. It could become an obligation for companies, one that is regulated in laws and regulations,” as he delivered his closing remarks.