2nd UN Pacific Forum on Business and Human Rights has ended
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Wednesday, November 24 • 10:30 - 11:45
Labour law, social dialogue and human rights in the Pacific

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This session will highlight the importance of strong labour laws as a basis to protect human rights and promote economic development. It will highlight the essential role of social dialogue among Governments, trade unions, and employer and business membership organizations in this field. The session will introduce participants to ILO core standards in the field of business and human rights, and to some of the key characteristics and challenges faced in building them into national labour law.

Social dialogue dialogue includes all types of negotiation, consultation or information sharing among representatives of governments, employers and workers or between those of employers and workers, on issues of common interest relating to economic and social policy. Across the Pacific, social dialogue is mandated at the national level, and typically takes the form of a national tripartite council or committee. Social dialogue is also a mandated feature of dispute resolution and labour arbitration in a number of countries, including at the local level. Social dialogue in the Pacific is strengthened by the cultural practice of talanoa, or inclusive and transparent dialogue. As a process for participatory decision making and key stakeholder consultation through representative membership based organizations, social dialogue also presents a vehicle for the wider UN system to engage with workers and employers on social and economic development issues.

Through social dialogue, and underpinned by the practice of talanoa, worker and employer representatives provide policy guidance and recommendatios to governments in the area of labour law. Beyond this, the contribute to policy advice related to the ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work (1998), which applies regardless of whether ILO member States have ratified the core labour standards that underpin it. The UNGPs specifically refer to the 1998 Declaration in identifying the human rights that business should respect. Ratified ILO conventions also apply regardless of business model. For its part, the ILO Tripartite Declaration of Principles concerning Multinational Enterprises and Social Policy, as revised in 2017, echoes the framework of the UNGPs.

The key objectives of this session are to:
  • Explain the concept of social dialogue in the Pacific and the contribution it makes to the design and enforcement of comprehensive labour laws that protect human rights.
  • Explain the particular relevance and role of ILO standards, given the UNGPs require State action.
  • Share insights on the characteristics and challenges of labour law and its role in promoting economic development and human rights.
  • Consider insights from the world of labour for human rights due diligence more generally.

Panelists will reflect on the following questions:
  • How does social dialogue contribute to business and human rights issues in the Pacific?
  • What is the value add of ILO standards and the work of the Office to help their implementation?
  • How is labour law instrumental in promoting human rights and economic development?
  • How can due diligence complement national and international labour regulation?

Session organized by International Labour Organization (ILO).

avatar for Robert Vaughan

Robert Vaughan

Human Rights Officer (Focal point for Climate and Business and Human Rights in the Pacific), The Office of UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)
Robert Vaughan is a human rights officer at the United Nations Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), with over 13 years experience in human rights. Robert specializes in a unique blend of climate, environment, business and human rights.As a human... Read More →

avatar for Matt Coghlan

Matt Coghlan

Financial Sector Engagement Manager, Walk Free
Matthew Coghlan is the Financial Sector Engagement Manager at Walk Free. He coordinates the Secretariat of the Investors Against Slavery and Trafficking Asia-Pacific (IAST APAC) initiative. Matt also supports the delivery of other Walk Free Business Engagement team projects, such... Read More →
avatar for Ingrid Landau

Ingrid Landau

Lecturer in the Department of Business Law and Taxation, Monash Business School
Dr Ingrid Landau is a Lecturer in the Department of Business Law and Taxation at Monash Business School. Ingrid teaches Employment Law, and Human Rights and Global Business. She researches in the areas of Australian employment law, and comparative and transnational labour regulation... Read More →
avatar for Colin Fenwick

Colin Fenwick

Decent Work and International Labour Standards Specialist, International Labour Organization (ILO)
Colin Fenwick is the Decent Work and International Labour Standards Specialist in the ILO Country Office for Pacific Island Countries in Suva. Before taking up this role in July 2021, Colin worked in ILO Headquarters in Geneva for 12 years. He was most recently Head of the Labour... Read More →

Wednesday November 24, 2021 10:30 - 11:45 GMT+12