• HRRC Presents the Main Findings of its Study on Judicial Training in ASEAN

    Jakarta, 17 April 2014 — From the 8th to the 10th of April, the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung (KAS) and Cambodia’s Royal Academy of Judicial Professions hosted the International Symposium on Judicial Integrity and Training in Phnom Penh. The two-day seminar was attended by representatives from judicial training institutions across ASEAN and is a continuation of a symposium on judicial training held in Taipei in 2013.

    During the event, HRRC’s Deputy Director, Michelle Staggs Kelsall presented the main findings of the Centre’s most recent study, Judicial Training in ASEAN: A Comparative Overview of Systems and Programs.

    The study, which will be made publicly available later this month, provides an overview of judicial training mechanisms in ASEAN, including the structure and institutionalisation of judicial training. It also looks at how the institutions consider and incorporate issues relating to the ASEAN integration in the national judicial training curriculum. The study’s overarching goal is to consider the synergies and differences within judicial training systems so as to help lay the groundwork for future collaborations.

    The study noted the evolving nature of cooperation among judicial training institutions, with Singapore and Thailand having initiated programs that would increase cooperation in the region over the course of the next years. Issues pertaining to ASEAN are largely still considered as the purview of the executive and legislative branches of government in that they are the ones charged with laying out and implementing policies, rather than the judiciary, whose role is to interpret laws. Hence to date, there has been limited consideration of ASEAN-specific questions in judicial training programs.

    The study nevertheless emphasises that judicial training institutions have much to contribute to the process of ASEAN integration, and there remains much untapped potential for greater cooperation.

  • HRRC Co-Organises Workshop on Business and Human Rights During the ASEAN Peoples’ Forum

    Jakarta, 16 April 2014 — During the ASEAN People’s Forum/ASEAN Civil Society Conference, held in Yangon from the 21st to the 23rd of March, HRRC’s Deputy Director, Michelle Staggs Kelsall shared conclusions drawn from HRRC’s 2013 Baseline Study on Business and Human Rights in ASEAN and other on-going projects, particularly the Business and Human Rights Reporting and Assurance Frameworks Initiative (RAFI). In the well-attended session, Kelsall gave a comprehensive overview of notable practices across ASEAN in regulating transnational companies and their supply chain. The workshop, “Promoting Inclusive and Responsible Business: Experiences of Myanmar, Singapore and Across ASEAN,” was organized by Maruah Singapore, the Human Rights Resource Centre, and the Myanmar Centre for Responsible Business.
    Moderated by Clara Feng of Maruah, it included inputs and presentations from the following experienced professionals in the field of business and human rights:
    1)    Han Shin Win, Badetharmoe
    2)    Ko Kyi Zaw Lwin, Karen River Watch
    3)    Ye Lin Myint, Paungku
    4)    Hnin Wut Yee, Myanmar Centre for Responsible Business
    5)    Leong Sze Hian, Maruah Singapore
    6)    Michelle Staggs Kelsall, Human Rights Resource Centre
    During the workshop, it was noted that there are interesting developments across the region in lobbying directly with companies to ensure that multinational corporations that source products from Southeast Asia adopt a zero tolerance approach to land-grabbing and depriving communities of their livelihoods. ASEAN states have put in place fairly robust legal frameworks concerning impacts of businesses on land use, labour, and the environment. The central challenge is almost always in the enforcement of these laws and regulations.
    Drawing from the presentations and discussions with attendees at the workshop, the organisers gave the following recommendations:
    1)    In line with the state duty to protect, as outlined in the 2011 UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, ASEAN states should take steps to prevent, investigate, punish and redress business-related human rights abuses through effective policies, legislation, regulations and adjudication, and promote international standards and best practices.
    2)    ASEAN states should develop and transparently implement regulatory frameworks on land and land tenancy which are consistent with the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests in the Context of National Food Security to address the negative impacts of large-scale land acquisition for agricultural and extractive industries across the region.
    3)   ASEAN States should redouble efforts to combat corruption at the national and ASEAN level, and engage both business and civil society in these efforts. This should include greater transparency of business contracts in land and extractives, providing a supportive environment of the media to pursue their essential role in exposing corruption, and prosecution of those involved in corrupt practices.
    The workshop is the HRRC’s first official event in Myanmar and the Centre looks forward to strengthening its working relations with Maruah Singapore and the Myanmar Centre for Responsible Business, as well as with the other networks it made during the event.
  • RAFI Publishes 2013 Take Away Document and Next Steps for 2014

    Jakarta, 16 April 2014 — Shift and Mazars, together with the HRRC, recapitulates in a ‘Take-Aways’ from RAFI Consultation in 2013 the key messages that the RAFI project team drew from the expert multi-stakeholder consultations it held in Jakarta, London and New York in October and November 2013, as well as the project workshops in Medellín and Bangkok, and the CSO meeting in Jakarta. The summaries of these consultations are available on RAFI’s web portal.

    Through these meetings, the Project Team consulted with over 150 individuals from business, civil society, governments as well as legal, assurance, academic and other expert backgrounds, in addition to a wide range of bilateral consultations with individuals and organizations since June 2013.

    The consultations informed the Project Team that there is value in reporting on processes to prevent and mitigate potential human rights impacts, as well as on actual impacts that have occurred and why, together with how they have been handled and remedied. Valuable insights had been gained in regards defining appropriate parameters for reporting. It was concluded that the frameworks should not be overly complex and that companies’ reports cannot be a panacea with regard to assessing companies’ human rights performance. A reporting framework should aim to elicit valuable, foundational information about a company’s performance. It should be a tool to improve the quality of those engagements, rather than trying to provide all the information that would result from those engagements.

    Views varied widely in regards the merits of an assurance framework accompanying a reporting framework. A few stakeholders thought the assurance framework should be dropped; some felt it is an important addition, but could come second. Many in ASEAN would like to see the two frameworks developed in parallel. Overall, the idea that development of the reporting framework should start ahead of the assurance framework seemed acceptable to most. The Project Team realises that the provision of assurance in the field of human rights is particularly challenging. It cannot be meaningful if it is a tick-box exercise or a very short-term, 1-2 day engagement. It needs to extend beyond verification of the accuracy of what is reported to look also at its sufficiency and at the effectiveness of processes described.

    The specific next steps envisaged are set out in a separate note, February 2014: Next Steps For The Project, Based On Consultations To Date. Moving forward, the project team intends to conduct a range of desk-based and interview-based research to help inform the drafting of the reporting framework. It will also produce public documents that would serve as basis for stakeholder consultations in April to June 2014. The project’s development in the months ahead will remain grounded in broad and deep consultations across different geographical areas, encompassing all stakeholder groups.

    All views and comments are welcomed and can be sent to Anna Triponel at Shift (anna.triponel@shiftproject.org) or Bahtiar Manurung at Mazars (bahtiar@mazars.co.id).


  • SHIFT and MAZARs Hold Consultation Meeting on RAFI in New Delhi, India

    Jakarta, 14 April 2014 — On 25 March 2014, JSL Stainless Limited held a consultation meeting on the Reporting and Assurance Frameworks Initiative in New Delhi. The consultation was organized in collaboration with the Centre for Responsible Business and was attended predominantly by participants from the business sector, but with a number also from investment, civil society and government backgrounds.  A full copy of the meeting summary can be downloaded here.

  • Conference: Understanding the Historical Origins of International Criminal Law

    Jakarta, 15 February 2014 — What are the main historical origins of international criminal law as a discipline of international law? The Human Rights Resource Centre, having formed an important partnership with the Centre for International Law Research and Policy to help those in the region to understand the history of war crimes prosecution, is proud to disseminate information on two conferences entitled “The Historical Origins of International Criminal Law.” Scheduled to be held in Hong Kong on 1-2 March and New Delhi on 29-30 November 2014, the conferences will explore the doctrinal, institutional, and societal foundations of international criminal law as a discipline of public international law.

    The Hong Kong conference examines historical trials and events up to the post-World War II period. The New Delhi conference follows up by studying later trials and their contributions to international criminal law, the origins and development of core international crimes, and the evolution of different institutions created to address these crimes.

    Each conference is held over two days, with leading judges, prosecutors, lawyers, and academics among the speakers. Along with Professor David Cohen, HRRC’s Special Advisor, the impressive list of experts includes Liu Daqun, Agnieszka Klonowiecka-Milart, David Re, Onuma Yasuaki, Geoffrey Robertson, Ling Yan, William Schabas, and Furuya Shuichi. 
    The papers by 84 conference speakers, from more than 30 countries, will subsequently be published in two comprehensive volumes. This project mobilizes a broad exploration of the history of international criminal law, and contributes to the vertical consolidation of this discipline of international law.

    The conferences are organized by the Centre for International Law Research and Policy, the European University Institute (Department of Law), and Peking University International Law Institute. City University of Hong Kong acts as co-organizer of the first conference, while Waseda University Law School is co-organizer of the second conference. 

    More information may be found at the FICHL webpage. Those wishing to attend may register with Ms. Tessa Bolton at bolton@fichl.org

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