Programme announced for Ireland’s Business and Human Rights Forum

The Irish Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has just released the programme for the 14th Annual Human Rights NGO Forum ‘Business and Human Rights: Implementing the United Nations Guiding Principles’. The event takes place on 7 November 2014, in Dublin Castle and participants must register by this Friday, 24th October. According to the Department:

The Forum is the first step in the process of the development of a national action plan for the implementation of the UN Guiding Principles, which will be led by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. The objective is to present the opportunity for business and civil society to set out their views on business and human rights, both in the broad sense and also with a view to helping to develop a national plan. In the longer term, the process should lead to a balance between differing viewpoints on the nature of the approach. Ideally, the final product should be a national plan that will encompass a measured, step by step approach.

The programme remains in draft subject to some confirmations, but the details are as follows:

8.30 Registration 

9.15 Opening Address – Mr. Charles Flanagan T.D., Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade

9.30 Setting the scene – Mara Bustelo, Sustainable Human Development, Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), Geneva

9.45 Plenary Panel 1 – ‘Socially sustainable globalization’ – making the business case for respect for human rights 

How can the business case for respect for human rights be better articulated and put into practice? How realistic is it to speak of creating a true ‘market incentive’ for respect for human rights? How successful has business been in embedding human rights policy into operational policies and procedures in a way that truly enhances the promotion and protection of human rights? 

Moderator: Ms. Emily Logan, Chief Commissioner of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission

Speakers: Mr. Chris Marsden OBE, Institute for Human Rights and Business

Mr. William Echikson, Head of Free Expression Policy and PR, Europe, Middle East & Africa, Google

Ms. Tina Roche, CEO, Business in the Community

Ms. Helen Dixon, Irish Data Commissioner

Ms Jo Daniels, Marks & Spencer

Dr. Jack Golden, Organisation Development Director, Cement Roadstone Holdings PLC

Questions and Answers 

11.30 Coffee/Tea 

11.45 Plenary Panel 2 – The UN Framework – Protect, Respect and Remedy: Progress and Challenges Three Years On 

What are the principal lessons learned three years into the mandate of the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights? What examples of effective implementation of the UN Guiding Principles by states and by businesses can be highlighted? What are the specific challenges in the period ahead? How can further progress be made towards providing access to effective remedies, both judicial and non-judicial? Is there a case for a legally binding instrument on transnational corporations and other business enterprises? 

Moderator: Mr. Niall Burgess, Secretary General, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

Speakers: Professor Robert McCorquodale, Director, British Institute for International & Comparative Law, London

Dr. Shane Darcy, Irish Centre for Human Rights, National University of Ireland, Galway

Professor Anita Ramasastry, University of Washington School of Law

Mr. Dwight Justice, International Trade Union Confederation

Ms. Audrey Gaughran, Amnesty International

Ms. Lene Wendland, Business and Human Rights advisor, OHCHR

Questions and Answers 

13.15 Lunch Break (lunch served in Dining Hall)

14.15 Afternoon Parallel Panels (running simultaneously)

Parallel Panel 1  – Preparation of National Action Plans on Business and Human Rights – comparative analysis 

How can the process of preparing national plans at national level assist in the development of the UN Framework on Business and Human Rights? What has best practice been in this regard? How do various stakeholders see their roles and how do we ensure their engagement? How can the diversity of businesses be encompassed in a single national plan? How can the language of human rights be meaningfully translated into the business environment? How can national plans contribute to regional and sectoral efforts for the implementation of the UNGPs? What does the future hold? 

Moderator: Mr. Mark Kelly, Director, Irish Council for Civil Liberties

Speakers: Mr. Stephen Lowe, Head, Business and Freedom of Expression Team, Human Rights and Democracy Development, UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office

Ms. Mary Rose Burke, IBEC Director of Policy and Corporate Affairs

Dr. Sheila Killian, University of Limerick

Dr. Claire Methven O’Brien, The Danish Institute for Human Rights

Mr. David Joyce, Irish Congress of Trade Unions

Rapporteur: Karol Balfe, Christian Aid Ireland

Parallel Panel 2 – Business and Human Rights – sectoral and developing country experiences 

What are the challenges in approach in specific sectors such as the financial sector and extractive industries? What is the experience of business and human rights in developing countries? How can the challenges of implementing a trade strategy and a development programme be met while upholding human rights standards? How can the UNGPs help? What are examples of international best practice, including for ensuring issues around gender equality and vulnerable groups are adequately addressed? What role do human rights defenders play and how can they be supported? 

Moderator: Ms. Noeline Blackwell, Free Legal Advice Centre (FLAC)

Speakers: Mr. Clement Voulé, International Service for Human Rights (ISHR)

Ms. Lorna Gold, Head of Policy and Advocacy, Trócaire

Mr. Des Hogan, Head of Legal, Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission

Mr. Mark Redmond, American Chamber of Commerce Ireland

Rapporteur: Ms. Deirdre Malone, Irish Penal Reform Trust

Questions and Answers 

16.00 Reports from Workshop Rapporteurs 

16.45 Concluding Remarks – Colin Wrafter, Director, Human Rights Unit, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

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