• HRRC Announces the 7th Summer Institute on International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights


    Jakarta, 24 July 2014—The Human Rights Resource Centre today announces its seventh annual Summer Institute on International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights (Summer Institute), to be held from the 12th to the 15th of August, in Bali, Indonesia, together with Udayana University.
    This year’s Summer Institute centres on the theme of Violence against Women and Violence against Children in Conflict Situations and Beyond, and will include an opening address from Zainab Bangura as well as panel discussions on both the causes and consequences of such violence. It hopes to form a catalyst for greater discussion on both the provisions in the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration that relate to the rights of women and children as well as the ASEAN Declaration on the Elimination of VAW and VAC that was adopted by the ASEAN Ministers for Social Welfare in October of 2013. The Summer Institute aims to bring together practitioners, academics and members of the ASEAN human rights commissions, committee, and Secretariat, to discuss how research in this area can better impact on policy considerations and vice versa.
    The Summer Institute is made possible through the generous support of the United States Government and the British Embassy in Jakarta.
    For further details on the Summer Institute please download the concept note and draft programme. The Faculty of Law of the Udayana University is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, and the Summer Institute will include a panel discussion to be held at the University which will be centred on the jubilee’s theme, Global Justice and Local Wisdom.
  • Concluding Report on Business and Human Rights: Social Auditing and Compliance Standards - A Research Team Submission

    Jakarta, 7 July 2014 — The Human Rights Resource Centre (HRRC) announces the conclusion of a research project on a potential set of standards, aimed at strengthening the use of the United Nations Guiding Principles (UNGP) by business enterprises. The UNGP was unanimously adopted by the Human Rights Council on 6 June 2011. An authoritative global standard was thus set that defines the respective roles of governments and business in ensuring governments’ responsibility to protect, business entities’ responsibility to respect human rights, and victims' rights for redress.
    The research examined the potential for a set of standards – known as the Business and Human Rights International Standard for Certification (BHRISC) 2011 – as a tool that businesses might potentially use as a standard to align their operations with the UNGP and comply with other international human rights norms and best practices. The standard was developed mainly by PT Moores Rowland Indonesia (a private auditing and consulting firm in Indonesia which is familiar with the issues of business and human rights), from an initiative by the HRRC. The development of BHRISC 2011 is premised on the idea that communities and the general public require a company’s human rights record to be reliably accounted for and independently assessed. The researchers also considered stakeholders’ concerns over certification schemes more generally, in light of lessons learned from previous schemes.
    The HRRC is an independent, not-for-profit research centre focusing on all aspects of human rights. It seeks to foster greater understanding and awareness of the UNGP within ASEAN, as well as globally, and to strengthen research in the application of the UNGP in the region. While the HRRC itself will not conduct nor be involved in any certification activities, it is committed to further research on regional practices for protecting and promoting human rights.
    The project on BHRISC 2011 includes components on the following human rights aspects of business activities:
    1.     Developing a Human Rights Management System
    2.     Impacts on a Business Enterprise’s and Supply Chain’s Workers
    A.   Impacts on Business Enterprise’s WorkersForced Labour
           - Child Labour and Young Workers
           - Conditions of Employment and Work
           - Non-discrimination Freedom of Association
           - Workplace Health and Safety 
    B.   Impacts on a Business Enterprise Supplier’s Workers
    3.     Impacts on Local Communities and the General Public
           - Land management
           - Environmental Management
    4.     Impacts Related to Products and Services
    5.     Impacts Related to Security
    The HRRC team has concluded its report and submitted its recommendation (download here) to the HRRC Governing Board.  The HRRC will undertake no further research, or certification activities, of any kind until its Governing Board has fully considered the results and recommendations of the current research report in the context of the programmatic priorities of the HRRC.  Interested parties can direct their enquiries on BHRISC 2011 to bhrisc2011@moores.rowland.com
  • HRRC Presents the Main Findings of its Study on Judicial Training in ASEAN

    Jakarta, 17 April 2014 — From the 8th to the 10th of April, the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung (KAS) and Cambodia’s Royal Academy of Judicial Professions hosted the International Symposium on Judicial Integrity and Training in Phnom Penh. The two-day seminar was attended by representatives from judicial training institutions across ASEAN and is a continuation of a symposium on judicial training held in Taipei in 2013.

    During the event, HRRC’s Deputy Director, Michelle Staggs Kelsallpresented the main findings of the Centre’s most recent study, Judicial Training in ASEAN: A Comparative Overview of Systems and Programs.

    The study, which will be made publicly available later this month, provides an overview of judicial training mechanisms in ASEAN, including the structure and institutionalisation of judicial training. It also looks at how the institutions consider and incorporate issues relating to the ASEAN integration in the national judicial training curriculum. The study’s overarching goal is to consider the synergies and differences within judicial training systems so as to help lay the groundwork for future collaborations.

    The study noted the evolving nature of cooperation among judicial training institutions, with Singapore and Thailand having initiated programs that would increase cooperation in the region over the course of the next years. Issues pertaining to ASEAN are largely still considered as the purview of the executive and legislative branches of government in that they are the ones charged with laying out and implementing policies, rather than the judiciary, whose role is to interpret laws. Hence to date, there has been limited consideration of ASEAN-specific questions in judicial training programs.

    The study nevertheless emphasises that judicial training institutions have much to contribute to the process of ASEAN integration, and there remains much untapped potential for greater cooperation.

  • HRRC Co-Organises Workshop on Business and Human Rights During the ASEAN Peoples’ Forum

    Jakarta, 16 April 2014 — During the ASEAN People’s Forum/ASEAN Civil Society Conference, held in Yangon from the 21st to the 23rd of March, HRRC’s Deputy Director, Michelle Staggs Kelsall shared conclusions drawn from HRRC’s 2013 Baseline Study on Business and Human Rights in ASEAN and other on-going projects, particularly the Business and Human Rights Reporting and Assurance Frameworks Initiative (RAFI). In the well-attended session, Kelsall gave a comprehensive overview of notable practices across ASEAN in regulating transnational companies and their supply chain. The workshop, “Promoting Inclusive and Responsible Business: Experiences of Myanmar, Singapore and Across ASEAN,” was organized by Maruah Singapore, the Human Rights Resource Centre, and the Myanmar Centre for Responsible Business.
    Moderated by Clara Feng of Maruah, it included inputs and presentations from the following experienced professionals in the field of business and human rights:
    1)    Han Shin Win, Badetharmoe
    2)    Ko Kyi Zaw Lwin, Karen River Watch
    3)    Ye Lin Myint, Paungku
    4)    Hnin Wut Yee, Myanmar Centre for Responsible Business
    5)    Leong Sze Hian, Maruah Singapore
    6)    Michelle Staggs Kelsall, Human Rights Resource Centre
    During the workshop, it was noted that there are interesting developments across the region in lobbying directly with companies to ensure that multinational corporations that source products from Southeast Asia adopt a zero tolerance approach to land-grabbing and depriving communities of their livelihoods. ASEAN states have put in place fairly robust legal frameworks concerning impacts of businesses on land use, labour, and the environment. The central challenge is almost always in the enforcement of these laws and regulations. Further, some international standards, such as the UN Guiding Principles and UN Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous People, are yet to be fully followed and enforced by national and local governments. There also must be stronger incentives and disincentives for companies to respect the human rights of communities that they work in.
    Drawing from the presentations and discussions with attendees at the workshop, the organisers gave the following recommendations:
    1)    In line with the state duty to protect, as outlined in the 2011 UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and ratified international conventions, ASEAN states should take steps to prevent, investigate, punish and redress business-related human rights abuses through effective policies, legislation, regulations and adjudication, and promote international standards and best practices through a common framework.
    2)    ASEAN states should develop and transparently implement regulatory frameworks on land and land tenancy which are consistent with the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests in the Context of National Food Security to address the negative impacts of  large-scale land acquisition for agricultural and extractive industries across the region. Development of such frameworks should be in close consultation with business enterprises and civil society specifically taking into account long term impact on the communities concerned.
    3)   In line with ASEAN States’ obligations under the Convention against Corruption, States should redouble efforts to combat corruption at the national and ASEAN level, and engage both business and civil society in these efforts. This should include greater transparency of business contracts in land and extractives, providing a supportive environment of the media to pursue their essential role in exposing corruption, and prosecution of those involved in corrupt practices.
    The workshop is the HRRC’s first official event in Myanmar and the Centre looks forward to strengthening its working relations with Maruah Singapore and the Myanmar Centre for Responsible Business, as well as with the other networks it made during the event.
  • RAFI Publishes 2013 Take Away Document and Next Steps for 2014

    Jakarta, 16 April 2014 — Shift and Mazars, together with the HRRC, recapitulates in a ‘Take-Aways’ from RAFI Consultations in 2013 the key messages that the RAFI Project Team drew from the expert multi-stakeholder consultations it held in Jakarta, London and New York in October and November 2013, as well as the project workshops in Medellín and Bangkok, and the CSO meeting in Jakarta. The summaries of these consultations are available on RAFI’s web portal.

    Through these meetings, the Project Team consulted with over 150 individuals from business, civil society, governments as well as legal, assurance, academic and other expert backgrounds, in addition to a wide range of bilateral consultations with individuals and organizations since June 2013.

    The consultations informed the Project Team that there is value in reporting on processes to prevent and mitigate potential human rights impacts, as well as on actual impacts that have occurred and why, together with how they have been handled and remedied. Valuable insights had been gained in regards defining appropriate parameters for reporting. It was concluded that the frameworks should not be overly complex and that companies’ reports cannot be a panacea with regard to assessing companies’ human rights performance. A reporting framework should aim to elicit valuable, foundational information about a company’s performance. It should be a tool to improve the quality of those engagements, rather than trying to provide all the information that would result from those engagements.

    Views varied widely in regards the merits of an assurance framework accompanying a reporting framework. A few stakeholders thought the assurance framework should be dropped; some felt it is an important addition, but could come second. Many in ASEAN would like to see the two frameworks developed in parallel. Overall, the idea that development of the reporting framework should start ahead of the assurance framework seemed acceptable to most. The Project Team realises that the provision of assurance in the field of human rights is particularly challenging. It cannot be meaningful if it is a tick-box exercise or a very short-term, 1-2 day engagement. It needs to extend beyond verification of the accuracy of what is reported to look also at its sufficiency and at the effectiveness of processes described.

    The specific next steps envisaged are set out in a separate note, February 2014: Next Steps For The Project, Based On Consultations To Date. Moving forward, the project team intends to conduct a range of desk-based and interview-based research to help inform the drafting of the reporting framework. It will also produce public documents that would serve as basis for stakeholder consultations in April to June 2014. The project’s development in the months ahead will remain grounded in broad and deep consultations across different geographical areas, encompassing all stakeholder groups.

    All views and comments are welcomed and can be sent to Anna Triponel at Shift (anna.triponel@shiftproject.org) or Bahtiar Manurung at Mazars (bahtiar@mazars.co.id).


  • SHIFT and MAZARs Hold Consultation Meeting on RAFI in New Delhi, India

    Jakarta, 14 April 2014 — On 25 March 2014, JSL Stainless Limited held a consultation meeting on the Reporting and Assurance Frameworks Initiative in New Delhi. The consultation was organized in collaboration with the Centre for Responsible Business and was attended predominantly by participants from the business sector, but with a number also from investment, civil society and government backgrounds.  A full copy of the meeting summary can be downloaded here.

  • Conference: Understanding the Historical Origins of International Criminal Law

    Jakarta, 15 February 2014 — What are the main historical origins of international criminal law as a discipline of international law? The Human Rights Resource Centre, having formed an important partnership with the Centre for International Law Research and Policy to help those in the region to understand the history of war crimes prosecution, is proud to disseminate information on two conferences entitled “The Historical Origins of International Criminal Law.” Scheduled to be held in Hong Kong on 1-2 March and New Delhi on 29-30 November 2014, the conferences will explore the doctrinal, institutional, and societal foundations of international criminal law as a discipline of public international law.

    The Hong Kong conference examines historical trials and events up to the post-World War II period. The New Delhi conference follows up by studying later trials and their contributions to international criminal law, the origins and development of core international crimes, and the evolution of different institutions created to address these crimes.

    Each conference is held over two days, with leading judges, prosecutors, lawyers, and academics among the speakers. Along with Professor David Cohen, HRRC’s Special Advisor, the impressive list of experts includes Liu Daqun, Agnieszka Klonowiecka-Milart, David Re, Onuma Yasuaki, Geoffrey Robertson, Ling Yan, William Schabas, and Furuya Shuichi. 
    The papers by 84 conference speakers, from more than 30 countries, will subsequently be published in two comprehensive volumes. This project mobilizes a broad exploration of the history of international criminal law, and contributes to the vertical consolidation of this discipline of international law.

    The conferences are organized by the Centre for International Law Research and Policy, the European University Institute (Department of Law), and Peking University International Law Institute. City University of Hong Kong acts as co-organizer of the first conference, while Waseda University Law School is co-organizer of the second conference. 

    More information may be found at the FICHL webpage. Those wishing to attend may register with Ms. Tessa Bolton at bolton@fichl.org

  • As the World Celebrates Interfaith Harmony Week, HRRC Launches New Study on Freedom of Thought, Conscience and Religion in ASEAN

    Jakarta, 5 February 2014 — The Human Rights Resource Centre today announced its plans to conduct the first study by a group of ASEAN-wide researchers on freedom of thought, conscience and religion (FOTCR) following the adoption of the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration (AHRD).    

    Encouraged by Article 22 of the AHRD, whereby ASEAN governments committed to eliminate “all forms of intolerance, discrimination and incitement of hatred based on religious beliefs,” the study will provide legal analysis on the extent to which FOTCR is guaranteed in ASEAN’s 10 member states. Trends in responding to religious intolerance will also be considered. The study builds on the work of the Indonesian Human Rights Working Group to raise the profile of the issue.

    “ASEAN’s commitment to eliminating religious intolerance is commendable,” said the HRRC’s Executive Director, Marzuki Darusman. “The study will seek to provide policymakers with much-needed analysis on both the extent to which legislative protections of freedom of religion exist, and how such protections contribute positively to regional integration and to international peace and security.”  It is worth recalling that in 2012, during the opening of the 8th ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community Council Meeting, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen had stressed the benefits of conducting such a study.

    ASEAN has embarked on an impressive program of efforts to achieve regional integration, including committing under its Political-Security Community Blueprint to “cooperation in political development with shared responsibility for comprehensive security.”  Under Chapter VIII of the Charter of the United Nations, regional arrangements, including ASEAN, have a duty to make every effort to achieve the pacific settlement of local disputes. Recent debates at the Security Council suggest that this obligation may be extended to include a much broader range of cooperative efforts than historically envisaged, including preventive measures and conflict mediation in non-international armed conflicts. In this regard, the role of Malaysia in facilitating the recently concluded 17-year negotiations between the government of the Philippines and Moro Islamic Liberation Front can serve as inspiration.

    “We are seeking to look both at analysis of the existing situation as well as any best practices or lessons learned from the region,” said Michelle Staggs Kelsall, the Centre’s Deputy Director.  “The Study is therefore both retrospective and prospective.  We hope that it will open up avenues for constructive discussions on the way forward in ASEAN to secure protections for all persons, regardless of their beliefs.”

    Professor Tore Lindholm, Professor Emeritus at the Norwegian Centre for Human Rights and Board Member of the Oslo Coalition on Freedom of Religion or Belief, has agreed to be one of four expert advisers to the study.  “This is an important study, and one which highlights the importance of guaranteeing freedom of religion, thought and conscience in a region with a wide variety of beliefs, particularly bearing in mind the goals of integration,” Professor Lindholm stated.

    Researchers for the study have been recruited from 8 out of 10 ASEAN countries, with all 10 countries being considered.  Additionally, the HRRC will endeavor to engage in consultations with representatives from the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission for Human Rights, ASEAN governments and the ASEAN Secretariat, as well as civil society and religious groups, throughout the drafting process.

    Results from the study will be released in the latter half of 2014.  Funding for the study comes from the Embassy of Norway in Jakarta.

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