Business and Human Rights Panel in “The 2015 International Conference on International Trade and Business Law”

Thursday, 20 August 2015

ELSAM, Surabaya – On 19-21 August 2015, the Faculty of Law, Airlangga University, and Te Piringa-Faculty of Law, Waikato University, New Zealand, hosted the International Conference on International Trade and Business Law at the Airlangga University, Surabaya. The conference aimed to bring together legal academics, researchers, academics and professionals to exchange and share experiences on research results related to the legal aspect of international trade and business. In addition, the conference also provided an interdisciplinary forum for researchers, practitioners and academics to present and discuss issues as well as recent cases, practical challenges encountered and any solutions that have been adopted in the area of international trade and business.

There are four panels in the conference, among them: 1) Sharia; 2) International Trade Law; 3) Trade and Commercial Law; and 4) Business and Human Rights. Specifically on the panel on Business and Human Rights, the Institute for Policy Research and Advocacy (ELSAM) is moderating the process of discussion. There were twelve papers related to business and human rights discussed in the conference. The papers came from several law faculties of Balikpapan, Bali, Bangka Belitung, Semarang, Malang, Jakarta and Surabaya.

The panel on Business and Human Rights was included in the international conference in view of the need for studies and discourses on the development of the global political economy and its relation to human rights. One of the developments emerging since 2011 is related to the emergence of the United Nations Principles related to Business and Human Rights, which is also known as the Ruggie Principles. In addition, the session also discussed corporate social responsibility, privatization of water, and policies related to mining.

ELSAM explained the urgency of drafting a National Action Plan related to Business and Human Rights as a preventive measure that can be done by the government and businesses in carrying out development. The Ruggie Principles constitute pragmatic steps to cope with the increasing negative impact on human rights that arise as a result of corporate operations. These principles consist of three pillars, namely 1) The responsibility of the state to protect from human rights abuses by third parties, including businesses; 2) The responsibility of companies to respect human rights; 3) The need to expand access for victims of an effective remedy, either through judicial or non-judicial mechanisms. Although these principles are not binding, a number of international standards have included human rights as their standards, which indirectly require corporations to respect human rights.

The Ruggie principles can be implemented in a country through the national action plan related to business and human rights. The plan aims to harmonize policies related to corporations, both across ministries and between central and regional governments. It aims to minimize conflicts caused by legal uncertainty. In addition, the National Action Plan is expected to increase the role of the state in protecting human rights from abuses committed by corporations.

The formulation of the National Action Plan related to Business and Human Rights is very important, in view of the residual spirit of MP3EI in the 2015-2019 RPJMN that has led to violations of human rights in recent years. There should be measures that can prevent negative impacts on human rights in the development process of the next five years, one of which is to implement the Ruggie principles into national law.

The Panel on Business and Human Rights in the International Conference on International Trade and Business Law is expected to increase knowledge related to the issue of business and human rights in order to contribute to the ongoing global quest to implement global standards of human rights.

Writer: Kania Mezariani