Since September 2012, the Nippon CSR Consortium, which CRT-Japan is a secretariat of, has been working to provide a forum in which to identify and discuss negative human rights impacts that may arise as a result of corporate activities. This work has been conducted in collaboration with companies from various industrial sectors, as well as NPOs, NGOs and human rights experts in academia.
This year of 2016, we arranged this consortium in Thailand with collaboration of Marimo5 (Further details are here). The results of discussions are summarized in the draft “Stakeholder Engagement Programme (draft) in Thailand” document. Following consideration of the received comments from the public, the Nippon CSR Consortium hereby releases “Human rights issues by Thai & Japanese companies in Thailand”.
Through public consultation, we have received many affirmative comments on the program. The comments are as followed: Through this paper, readers can understand that risks which seem unrelated to their businesses have relevance to them; This program is highly evaluated in providing a platform where companies and NGOs can discuss human rights issues. However, there are also comments expressing the concern that this stakeholder dialogue does not include persons whose human rights are abused. NGOs are voices speaking on behalf of those affected persons, so they cannot fully convey actual circumstances of violations of human rights. When companies address human rights issues, they need to recognize the importance of conducting a dialogue with affected persons.
We have also received comments stating that training programmes were needed for persons responsible for incorporating the identified issues into business operations. These programmers should aim at enabling those persons with the conviction and the skills necessary to inspire other departments within their companies. Expectations that companies manage their supply chains responsibly have increased in recent years. In response to this trend, we are exploring the possibility of conducting similar stakeholder engagement programmes in other Asian countries, next year.
There are also comments stressing the need for Japanese and Thai companies to investigate the possibility of human rights violations against foreign workers (especially in business operations in border areas) and workers in palm oil producing farms, and to implement concrete action plans to address any human rights issues.
In order to discuss those issues further (health and safety at the workplace, corruption and bribery, issues of foreign workers, small scale of oil palm farmers), “the Conference on Business and Human Rights in Tokyo” will held on 15th and 16th September 2016 conducted a panel discussion on them among invited foreign guest speakers, corporate representatives and NGOs who participated in the 2016 Human Rights Due Diligence Workshop. This panel discussion will lead the conference participants to recognize the importance of conducting a dialogue with rights-holders who are subject to corporate activities, identifying potentially and actual adverse impacts they produce, and conducing a human rights due diligence process.
Nippon CSR Consortium will continue to collaborate with companies, NGOs/NPOs, subject experts, and other initiatives to enhance support for solving issues linked to business and human rights. We sincerely hope that this report will contribute to further implementation of human rights due diligence by companies.
Caux Round Table Japan
Hiroshi Ishida and Saul Takahashi