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‘UN instrument key to upholding rights, protecting environment’

by Istiak Ahmed Shimul

The UN draft resolution on business and human rights is crucial for upholding human rights, and protecting environment and labour rights, speakers said yesterday. 

Talking at a webinar on the draft UN resolution, they also mentioned that Bangladesh will need to have an action plan on how the instrument will be implemented in the country.

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International Business Forum of Bangladesh (IBFB) and Bangladesh Enterprise Institute (BEI) jointly organised the webinar.

Distinguished Fellow of BEI Ambassador Farooq Sobhan said the international community has taken several attempts to prepare a resolution.

In the past, developing countries tried to impress on developed countries that transnational or multi-national companies should follow code of conduct in developing countries, particularly in regards to upholding human rights, protecting the environment, respecting labour rights and avoiding corrupt business practices.

But developed countries, and International Chamber of Commerce said there should be a code for every party, not only multinational companies.

Bangladesh Environment Lawyers Association Chief Executive Syeda Rizwana Hasan presented the keynote paper.

She said: “We should be associated with such instruments, as foreign companies are working in almost all big mega projects.”

Due to the way work of flyovers is going on, the country’s air quality became the worst globally, she said. “If you ask the same companies to work the way they do in China and Japan, they would not be allowed to work in the same style.”

Supreme Court Lawyer Jyotirmoy Barua said Bangladesh will need to address the issue of how the UN resolution would be implemented. “Until a domestic law recognises it or a local law was made, international instruments cannot be executed directly in Bangladesh.”

Dhaka University’s Assistant Professor of Law Mohammad Golam Sarwar said Bangladesh needs to revise its laws, so that it can make corporations accountable for environmental pollution.

BEI President Ambassador Humayun Kabir delivered the welcome remarks, and IBFB President Humayun Rashid presided over the webinar.

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