GENEVA (18 May 2016) – The United Nations Working Group on business and human rights will undertake its first official visit to the Republic of Korea from 23 May to 1 June 2016 to examine the impact of business activities on human rights in the country.
“The Republic of Korea is today amongst the world’s biggest economies and exporters and home to major global companies as well as a large number of small and medium-sized enterprises,” said human rights expert Dante Pesce, who currently heads the Working Group.
“We welcome the Government’s commitment to assuming a leadership role in promoting sustainable development, and we look forward to learning about how it is integrating the protection against business-related human rights abuse into such efforts,” he added.
The experts are looking at how the South Korean Government and businesses are implementing their respective human rights obligations and responsibilities, in line with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights*.
The Guiding Principles, unanimously endorsed by the UN Human Rights Council in 2011, offer clarity and guidance for authorities and companies to prevent and address adverse impacts of business activities on human rights. They re-affirm States’ existing obligations to protect against human rights abuse by businesses. They also clarify the corporate responsibility to respect human rights, and the need to ensure that victims have access to effective remedy.
“As well as meeting with senior representatives of the Government of the Republic of Korea and a number of companies, we look forward to talking with members of civil society organisations, trade unions and other stakeholder groups,” said Michael Addo, the other member of the Working Group’s visiting delegation. “We are also keen to learn more about plans for a national action plan on business and human rights.”
The experts, who visit the country at the invitation of the South Korean Government, will hold meetings in Seoul, Gwacheon, DaeJeon, Sejong and Ulsan.
At the end of their mission, on Wednesday 1 June, the experts will hold a press conference to share with the media preliminary observations from their visit at 12:00, at the Plaza Hotel, 119 Sogong-Ro, Jung-Gu, Seoul. Access to the press conference is strictly limited to journalists.
Findings from the country visit and recommendations will be included in an official report to be presented to the Human Rights Council.
(*) Read the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Business/Pages/Tools.aspx
The Working Group on human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises was established by the UN Human Rights Council in June 2011. Its current members are: Mr. Michael Addo, Mr. Surya Deva, Mr. Dante Pesce (current Chairperson), and Mr. Pavel Sulyandziga (current vice chair). The appointment of the fifth member of the Working Group will be made by the Human Rights Council in June 2016. Learn more, log on to: www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Business/Pages/WGHRandtransnationalcorporationsandotherbusiness.aspx
The Working Groups are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent human rights monitoring mechanisms. The Working Groups report to the Human Rights Council and to the UN General Assembly. Special Procedures mandate-holders are independent human rights experts appointed by the Human Rights Council to address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. The experts are not UN staff and are independent from any government or organization. They serve in their individual capacity and do not receive a salary for their work.
UN Human Rights, country page – Republic of Korea: www.ohchr.org/EN/Countries/AsiaRegion/Pages/KRIndex.aspx
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