UN group highlights nexus of duties
At the end of their well-received visit to Thailand, the UN Working Group (WG) on Business and Human Rights issued a useful and constructive statement. As with any visit by a human rights body, the WG's findings indicate both a positive side and another side that needs improvement.
For instance, it commended the authorities for the enforcement of measures against human trafficking, as well as comprehensive measures to stamp out abuses in the fishing industry. The assessment in the statement was all the more important because it concentrated on state-owned enterprises (SOEs). There are nearly 60 SOEs today with a massive portfolio and with operations in Thailand that have extraterritorial reach.
The main international guidance on the subject is the UN Guiding Principles (UNGP) on Business and Human Rights, based on three pillars: the duty to protect, the duty to respect and the duty to remedy.
Professor of law at Chulalongkorn University
Professor Vitit Muntarbhorn teaches at Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok. He has helped the UN in a variety of positions and is currently a member of a UN Human Rights Commission of Inquiry. This article is derived from his speech at the recent Conference on Asean Traversing 2015: Challenges of Development, Democratisation, Human Rights and Peace, organised by Mahidol University, Bangkok.