National Conference on Business and Human Rights

The National Human Rights Commission organised a National Conference on 'Business and Human Rights' in collaboration with the Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL) at BHEL, Bengaluru on the 12th January, 2018. The objective of the Conference was to discuss the national and international developments in the area of Business and Human Rights besides sharing the experience and views of different stakeholders.
Inaugurating the Conference, Mr. Justice H.L. Dattu, Chairperson, NHRC said that there is a growing recognition that the activities of corporate sector have led to economic growth, employment generation and rise in incomes but there are also clear signs of an acute strain on environment due to the damage to the planet's ecological support systems and widening gaps between the rich and poor, impacting fundamental human rights, dignity, equality and well-being of a large number of people.
Mr. Justice P.C. Ghose, Member, Mr. Ambuj Sharma, Secretary General and Dr. Ranjit Singh, Joint Secretary, (P&A), NHRC, Dr. Devi Prasad Shetty, Chairman, Narayan Group of Hospitals, Mr. N. Santhanam, General Manager (Finance) and Mr. K. Adiseshu, General Manager (HR), BHEL were present.
The conference was attended by the senior officers from the Centre and State Governments, State Human Rights Commission, CEOs and other representatives of various business enterprises/industries/federations including Public Sector Undertakings, PSUs, Trade Union, academia and Civil Society Organisations, working in the area of business and human rights.
After intensive deliberations various important suggestions emerged, some of which are as follows:
1. States should develop a National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights, in conformity with the UN Guiding Principles, to protect against the adverse impact on human rights by business enterprises;
2. Develop an accreditation/rating mechanism for all the PSUs to ensure protection and promotion of human rights;
3. Remove the word 'Voluntary' from the 'National Voluntary Guidelines' of the Union Ministry of Corporate Affairs.
4. Business entities should develop a self regulating mechanism to ensure protection of human rights of all their workers;
5. The companies need to adopt/use 'Self Assessment Tool', developed by a team of representatives from the Industry Federations/organisations and facilitated by the NHRC, to self evaluate their commitment to human rights, and identify the needs/ gaps for further improvement;
6. NHRC may undertake a short term research study/project in collaboration with the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad/Bengaluru on Business and Human Rights.