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Human Rights, Advocacy and Business – Capacity Building in Thailand

Serena Lillywhite Sep 25, 2009
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The Diplomacy Training Program (DTP) in partnership with the Institute for Social and Economic Change and Cividep, India (an OECD Watch member), recently held its fourth regional program on human rights advocacy and business in Chiang Mai, Thailand. The program was originally scheduled to be held in Bangalore.

DTP is an independent NGO which seeks to advance human rights and empower civil society in the Asia Pacific region through quality education and training, and the building of skills and capacity in non-governmental organisations and for individual human rights defenders and community advocates. The DTP was founded in 1989 by HE Jose Ramos-Horta, 1996 Nobel Peace Laureate and current President of Timor-Leste.

OECD Watch was delighted to be invited to participate in the program. Serena Lillywhite, Gopinathan Kunhithayii Parakuni and Rashmi Venkatesan delivered training on the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, case studies on using the Guidelines, and practical exercises in National Contact Point mediation and using the Guidelines provisions. Serena also represented SOMO (OECD Watch Secretariat) and delivered training on researching the corporation and supply chain advocacy.

The program attracted 27 participants from Indonesia, Taiwan, Mongolia, Burma, Cambodia, India, Sri Lanka, Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, Australia and Timor-Leste. All participants were actively involved in advocacy work, and each provided insight into their particular campaigns and challenges.

Few participants had any knowledge of the OECD Guidelines, with the exception of the Shwe Gas Movement and Earth Rights International, who had submitted a case to the Korean NCP (rejected) on the Shwe Gas pipeline. There was also a representative from OECD Watch member Business Watch Indonesia. This demonstrates the urgent need for ongoing capacity building in the region, and the growing interest in business and human rights and the mechanisms available for campaigners dealing with poor business conduct.

The program was comprehensive, and developed skills in understanding the international system for human rights, human rights standards, human rights and the responsibilities of states, globalisation, trade and investment agreements, the mandate of the UN SRSG on human rights and business, export credit agencies, campaigning techniques and media skills.

OECD Watch is establishing an ongoing relationship with the DTP, and a joint training program planned for November 2009 in Bangkok will further consolidate this relationship, and further develop capacity building in the South.

Website: http://www.dtp.unsw.edu.au

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