Venue: Faletti’s Hotel, Lahore
Date: Thursday, 17th Oct 2019
The Research Society of International Law assisted the Ministry of Human Rights (MoHR) in holding a consultation session in Lahore for the development of a National Action Plan pertaining to Business and Human Rights (BHR) and the adoption of the UN Guiding Principles on BHR in Pakistan.
This session, the first of many to be hosted across Pakistan, was conducted in collaboration with UNDP Pakistan. In attendance were business leaders, employees, civil society members, lawyers and experts on business and human rights in Pakistan, invited to participate in the discussion to promote and understand human rights in the business context, and to reinforce coordination and coherence within the government on relevant laws and policies. The session began with opening remarks by Mr. Malik Kamran Azam Khan, Joint Secretary for the Ministry of Human Rights followed by a consultation overview by Director Research, RSIL, Mr. Oves Anwar.
A prominent feature of the consultation session was the panel discussion consisting of leading professionals in the fields of business, law and human rights designed to facilitate discussion on the scope and practice of BHR in Pakistan also to address questions by the attendees. The discussion was moderated by Mr. Oves Anwar and the panelists included Mr. Malik Kamran (Joint Secretary, Ministry of Human Rights), Ms. Mariam Khalid (Manager Legal, PEECA, Pakistan), Mr. Uzair Kayani (Assistant Professor, LUMS School of Law), and Ms. Aleena Alvi (Legal Professional). This session laid down a foundation for the working groups to be conducted following lunch.
The working groups were the main feature of the day-long session. For this, the attendees were divided into four separate groups to address some of the key policy areas including the function of the Pakistani government in facilitating ethical business practices. Each group consisted of 10-20 participants, note-takers from the RSIL Team, and was moderated by experts, namely, Mr. Oves Anwar, Mr. Malik Kamran Azam, Mr. Uzair Kiyani and Ms. Aleena Alavi. The key policy areas that were addressed coincided with the specific expertise of each stakeholder during this session. For example, members of the Pakistan Labor Federation highlighted the importance of ensuring the safety of child-workers and protecting them from all kinds of exploitation, while business employees discussed the importance of comprehensive protections via Human Resources departments.
The session was concluded with a closing plenary which consisted of feedback on the recommendations made in the working groups. Moderators from each group nominated representatives which were invited to the floor to share the summarized findings of their groups. The working groups were able to identify key issues that must be addressed by the National Action Plan to ensure the best of business practices in Pakistan that will uphold human rights. A detailed report of the findings following this session will be made public soon. The recommendations gathered from each session will feed in to the National Baseline Assessment being conducted by RSIL.
The consultation session ended with closing remarks by Mr. Ahmer Bilal Soofi (President, RSIL) and Mr. Malik Kamran (Joint Secretary, Ministry of Human Rights), who thanked the participants for their contributions.
Here are some highlights from the session: https://www.flickr.com/photos/undppakistan/albums/72157711408362438
To find out how you can be a part of the development of Business and Human Rights in Pakistan – log on to www.bhr.com.pk and follow the progress at #BHRPK