On Tuesday, 30 March 2020 the webinar on the UN Draft Resolution on Business and Human Rights was jointly organised by International Business Forum of Bangladesh (IBFB) and Bangladesh Enterprise Institute (BEI).
The virtual event was graced by the presence of Mr. Humayun Rashid, President, IBFB; Mr. Farooq Sobhan, Distinguished fellow and member of BEI; Ambassador M Humayun Kabir, President, BEI; Lt. Gen. M. Harun-Ar-Rashid Bir Protik (Retd.), Director, IBFB; Advocate Syeda Rizwana Hasan, Chief Executive, BELA.
The panelists included Barrister Jyotirmoy Barua, Advocate, Supreme Court of Bangladesh; Mr. Mohammad Golam Sarwar, Assistant Professor, Department of Law, University of Dhaka and Mr. M.S. Siddiqui, Legal Economist and Vice President, IBFB.
In his welcome remarks, Ambassador M Humayun Kabir stated that good governance is a must and it is intricately connected with the subject of the webinar. He further mentioned that in order to cope up with changing business strategies and technologies, and to achieve SDG goals in the post pandemic world, this discourse of Business and Human Rights is quite essential.
While presenting her paper on the Draft Resolution, Advocate Syeda Rizwana Hasan emphasised that we currently have the second draft in hand. The third draft has not been made public yet, and is expected to be made so by 31 July 2021. She stated that in the Resolution 26/9 of the Human Rights Council, an Open Ended Inter Government Working Group (OEIGWG) had been formed to develop an international legally binding instrument on Transnational Corporations (TNCs) and other enterprises. Here, other business enterprises are meant by all businesses that have a transnational character in their operational strategies. Advocate Rizwana also elaborated that this draft is a victim oriented and state oriented statute. Moreover, it encourages non-judicial grievance mechanism and also diplomatic and consular means.
As the webinar progressed, Advocate Jyotirmoy Barua discussed the need for the involvement of public interest in the government companies which are state owned. He also discussed the importance of implementing internationally standard statutes by incorporating in national laws.
Mr. Mohammad Golam Sarwar then shed light on the importance of this discourse of Business and Human Rights in Bangladesh. He elaborated that in order to implement SDGs we need to ensure human rights as every SDG goal has human rights implications. He also mentioned the presence of new concepts of human rights due diligence and legislative reform in the context of Bangladesh. Mr. Sarwar concluded his presentation by discussing the necessity to promote a culture of accountability and responsibility to ensure business and human rights discourse in Bangladesh.
Lastly, Mr. Siddiqui urged all participants to focus more on the internal administrative factors of the country and national law implementation before blaming transnational or other business entities.
In short, the panelists, guests and participants addressed the pressing needs, issues and challenges for Bangladesh on the discourse of Business and Human Rights. The discussion by the panelists was followed by a session of remarks and comments exchange.
Event report by Nowshin Noor, student of law at the University of Dhaka.