Manila, 4 November 2014—Caroline Rees, President of Shift, visited Manila this month to present the Reporting and Assurance Framework Initiative (RAFI) at an event organized by Shift and the Economic, Social and Cultural Rights-Asia (ESCR-Asia), in cooperation with the Makati Business Club, Integrity Initiative, the Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines, Asia Pacific Pathways to Progress Foundation, and Asian Consortium on Human Rights-Based Access to Justice. The RAFI is a project of Shift and Mazars, in liaison with the Human Rights Resource Centre.
“Profitable Partnerships: A Workshop on Business and Human Rights in Select Countries in Asia,” aimed to increase understanding on the background and the highlights of the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGP). The event was attended by a variety of stakeholders which included representatives from embassies based in Manila, some officers from the national human rights institution of Afghanistan, government offices, business associations, and NGOs.
During her presentation, Rees gave an overview of the UNGP, focusing specifically on its 2nd Pillar, which relates to the responsibility of businesses to respect human rights. She compared the concept of business and human rights to corporate social responsibility, the latter being a more familiar term in the region. She went in depth and explained the components of human rights due diligence, which requires corporates to assess their human rights impacts, integrate their findings, tract the responses to their measures, and communicate the results to stakeholders. She went on to describe why the project team developed RAFI, as well as the RAFI’s objective and approach. Finally, she presented the evolving draft of the reporting framework.
The participants were enthusiastic during the discussions, expressing a desire to know more about the ramifications of the framework, including its limitations, pitfalls, benefits, and the expected challenges. Participants were particularly interested in how companies can be encouraged to utilise such a reporting framework, suggesting some avenues for the project team to consider. The eager responses from the participants appear to indicate that there is room for further discussion of the RAFI, as well as related activities, in the Philippines.