Acting under the auspices of the Global Compact Network Russia, the Working Group on Human Rights and Labor closed the year 2016 with an extended meeting in the format of the round table titled “Business and Human Rights”.
The meeting was hosted by the Association “National Network of the Global Compact" established in 2016 to expand the scope of activities of the Global Compact Network Russia and acting as the official successor, Vnesheconombank as the chairing company of the Russian Network, and the Agency for Social Information, the director of which Eleva Topoleva-Soldunova is in charge of the Working Group on Human Rights and Labor.
Welcoming the participants, the Head of the UN Information Center in Russia Vladimir Kuznetsov outlined the logic of the international activities of the United Nations on this subject, which, in turn, is reflected in the three-level structure of the Working Group activity: the global agenda – the national context – specific business mechanisms and practices in the area of human rights protection.
The issue posed in the title of the meeting, received the global status only a few years ago. This segment of the overall area of human rights protection, which has loud sound within the United Nations, has acquired certain independence. “This is very significant and confirms that the responsibility of the private sector for sustainable development of the planet and the well-being of people is treated more severe today - said Larisa Ovchinnikova, the Chair of the Governing Board of the Association “National Network of the Global Compact”. - Business is considered as both the driver of progress and the main respondent for negative consequences of the development of civilization.”
Ms. Ovchinnikova presented the outcomes of the 5th UN Forum on Business and Human Rights held recently in Geneva, the main topic of which was “Leadership and leverage: Embedding human rights in the rules and relationships that drive the global economy”. The results of this implementation into the system of government and corporate values will affect more and more the interpretation of the concept of leadership and corporate responsibility worldwide.
In this context, some results of the Working Group in 2016 were presented at the meeting, including the outcomes of the first stage of the legal expertise of the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights with respect to the Russian law, the analysis of the practice of developing national action plans on business and human rights, the report on participation in the Working group under the Ministry for Economic Development of the Russian Federationon the implementation of mandatory sustainability reporting in Russia and many other.
The comprehensive outcome of the meeting and the qualitative expansion of the Working Group provided a balanced composition of participants – experts, who represented large Russian companies (Severstal, UC RUSAL, Philip Morris Int.), business associations, public organizations, scientific and educational centers as well as the State Duma, the All-Russian Association of Trade Unions, the International Alliance of BRICS Strategic Projects, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Embassy of Switzerland in the Russian Federation.
Participants of the meeting defined the relevant objectives of the Working Group, which is aimed at enhancing inter-agency cooperation in this issue area, including those goals set by the Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, as well as outlined the prospects of work for a new stage by putting in the plan such activities as analysis of public and expert opinion on the target list of issues, implementation of a partner educational and outreach program, identification and promotion of best Russian business cases in the area of human rights, presentation of best Russian business practices in the area of human rights protection at international UN platforms etc. The new separate activity of the Working Group will be implementation of projects aimed at enhancing social and labor rights and opportunities for people with disabilities.