Dialogue and Policy Advocacy, The Approach of the Working Group on Business and Human Rights in Indonesian Global Compact Network

Thursday, 30 July 2015

ELSAM, Jakarta – In discussing about business and human rights, besides doing advocacy to the government, one cannot be separated to the business itself. The United Nations Global Compact, founded by the United Nations in 2000, is one of the initial steps to push the private sectors to accomplish their operations by respecting human rights. The Global Compact exists in 161 states, with 8,346 corporations and 32,506 public sectors as members. The voluntary organization, founded through the UN’s initiative, has ten principles, in which the first and second principles are related to human rights. The first and second principles are that businesses should support and respect the protection of internationally proclaimed human rights, and that they should make sure that they are not complicit in human rights abuses.

In Indonesia, Global Compact members are organized by one group. In May 2015, the Indonesian Global Compact Network (IGCN), whose members are cross-sectoral: private, academic and NGOs, have founded the Working Group on Business and Human Rights. The working group is created due to the realization of the importance of the role of businesses in promoting the principles of Business and Human Rights Guidelines, especially in implementing them in business activities on a daily basis. Besides, the working group is created as a follow-up of a series of workshops and roundtables related to business and human rights that have been implemented. The businesses understand that in order to create sustainable businesses that are able to compete globally, they have to respect human rights, which are now part of international standards.

In the fourth meeting of the Working Group on Business and Human Rights, the members discussed the steps that could be taken to advance the principles of Business and Human Rights Guidelines. These steps could be taken through two approaches: namely dialogue and policy advocacy, and action. The working group intends to be involved in the creation of the National Action Plan (NAP) on Business and Human Rights, initiated by the National Commission on Human Rights. The members wish to get involved from the initial formulation process of the NAP, so they can provide more inputs, because when the text has been drafted, intervention will be more difficult.

The members also initiate the action, in relation to the Business for Peace Initiative, in which the business plays a role in promoting peace between cultures and religions. This is done in the program of mass weddings between people involving different religions and cultures, which has been done routinely in the last few years. The program is intended to fulfill the right to obtain an identity, which is expected to bring the people out of poverty. Many societies do not have identity cards, and their children do not have birth certificates. As a result, they lack of access to gain an education, health and other rights. With the mass wedding program, it is expected that the community will directly get benefit from the activity, namely fulfilment of their rights for identity.

However, members realize that the necessity of further socialisation to corporations needs to be increased in relation to business and human rights. It can be done through trainings, workshops and creation of tool kits that are easily understood by corporations. The program is expected to give new strategies in integrating human rights and business activities. This includes the formulation of human rights policies, diligence, and restitution mechanisms for victims. The steps are intended as preventive ones to human rights violations involving corporations.

The implementation of the program of the Working Group on Business and Human Rights is a challenge for all members. This demands an equal cooperation and collaboration between the private and public sectors, in order to diminish the number of human rights violations caused by corporations.