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Human Rights Law and Policy Forum

Virtual Workshop on the Role of Scholars in Promoting Business and Human Rights Law and Policy Reforms in Asia

26-28 April 2021 (Online)


In the last decade, the discourse on business and human rights (BHR) and responsible business conduct (RBC) has gained significant momentum all over the world. International standards such as the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs), the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, and the ILO Tripartite Declaration of Principles concerning Multinational Enterprises have provided impetus to promote business respect for human rights. Business enterprises are also expected to contribute to inclusive and sustainable development in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). National action plans on business and human rights (NAPs) have emerged as a critical tool for states to implement these standards, especially the UNGPs. Thailand (2019) and Japan (2020) are two Asian states that have adopted stand-alone NAPs, while several other states in Asia are in the process of developing a NAP. However, inadequate evidence-based research and scholarship in Asia is undermining the effective implementation of global standards in varied local contexts.

Against this background, the Public Law and Human Rights Forum at City University of Hong Kong’s Law School, the World Benchmarking Alliance, United Nations Development Programme’s (UNDP), and the Human Rights and Business Academy (HURBA) are collaborating to organise a virtual workshop during 26-28 April 2021 to build capacity of academics and researchers from Asian states. The workshop will be facilitated by leading experts in an interactive manner.


  • The workshop aims to harness various soft skills and develop critical understanding of participants about:
  • the nature and extent of the human rights responsibilities of business enterprises;
  • existing and emerging BHR policy/legal frameworks at national, regional and global levels;
  • how states and businesses in Asia are implementing BHR/RBC standards – what is working and what is not;
  • various judicial and non-judicial remedial mechanisms available to rightsholders to hold business enterprises accountable for human rights abuses; and
  • the role of CSOs and human rights defenders (HRDs) in the BHR agenda, including in corporate accountability.

The workshop also aims to pursue two long-term objectives: (i) establish a network of BHR scholars in Asia to institutionalise regular collaboration to conduct research, influence global BHR landscape, and promote the implementation of BHR standards by states and businesses; and (ii) publish a special issue on BHR in Asia in the Business and Human Rights Journal or some other medium.

Target Participants

A small number (about 25) of academics and researchers (i) based at universities, research centres and thinktanks in Asian states, and (ii) with interest in issues concerning BHR, RBC, sustainable development, human rights, and political economy will be selected to join the workshop. Participants will be expected to have foundational understanding of international human rights law and public policy.

If you are interested in joining the workshop, please apply here. The deadline to submit applications is 31 January 2021. The organisers aim to contact the selected applicants by 19 February 2021.