Statement by the Vice-President of the Human Rights Council, H.E. Geert Muylle, at the 5th annual Forum on business and human rights, 15 November 2016


15 November 2016

Tuesday 15 November 2016
Assembly Hall, Palais des Nations

Excellency, President of the Swiss Confederation
High Commissioner
Distinguished Forum participants,

On behalf of the President of the Human Rights Council, it is my pleasure to be here with you today and to warmly welcome you to the Fifth Annual UN Forum on Business and Human Rights.

I would like particularly to welcome Mr. Sergey Ordzhonikidze, who has kindly accepted to serve as Chairperson of this year’s Forum. Mr. Ordzhonikidze is Vice-President of the Civic Chamber of the Russian Federation and he has long-standing experience in international affairs and in promoting multi-stakeholder dialogue and collaboration. He has previously served the United Nations as Under-Secretary-General and Director General of the United Nations Office in Geneva.

Distinguished participants,

This year, this UN Forum celebrates its five year anniversary. It is also five years since the Human Rights Council endorsed the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights as an authoritative framework to prevent and address adverse human rights impact from business activities, based on the three pillars of the United Nations “Protect, Respect and Remedy” Framework.

The high level of interest in the Forum shows that the United Nations can play an important role in bringing the different stakeholder groups together to promote dialogue and cooperation. It also shows that amongst all stakeholder groups there is a common interest in finding ways to avoid and mitigate adverse business-related human rights impacts.

I am impressed by the rich programme of this year’s Forum. The issues being examined relate to a range of mandates and processes of the Human Rights Council. For example, I note that a session will provide an update on the open-ended intergovernmental working on an international human rights instrument to regulate business activities.

Sessions later today and tomorrow on access to remedy and the situation of human rights defenders address subjects that the Human Rights Council has also recently addressed. In its resolution 32/10 on business and human rights, the Council called on States to take concrete steps to improve accountability and access to effective remedy in cases on business involvement in human rights abuses, including by creating and maintaining an enabling environment for civil society.

I also note that Forum sessions will take stock of experiences with national action plans on business and human rights. The Council earlier welcomed the efforts of the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights to develop guidance for the development and implementation of effective national action plans, and I look forward to the presentation tomorrow of the Working Group’s Guidance on National Action Plans on Business and Human Rights and to learn from the experiences gained so far.

These are but a few picks from this year’s very rich agenda.

I wish you all an inspiring and fruitful Forum, and, without further ado, I would like to hand over to the distinguished Chairperson of the Fifth Forum for his opening remarks.

Thank you.