UN group highlights nexus of duties

UN group highlights nexus of duties

Vitit Muntarbhorn is a Professor Emeritus at Chulalongkorn University. He was formerly UN Special Rapporteur, UN Independent Expert and a member of UN Commissions of Inquiry on human rights. (Photo UNODC)
Vitit Muntarbhorn is a Professor Emeritus at Chulalongkorn University. He was formerly UN Special Rapporteur, UN Independent Expert and a member of UN Commissions of Inquiry on human rights. (Photo UNODC)

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.

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Vitit Muntarbhorn

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.

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