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2nd UN Forum on Business and Human Rights in Eastern Europe and Central Asia
"Beyond Voluntary: Doing Business Right for People and the Planet"

11-12 November 2021 | Virtual Event

09:00 - 16:00 Central European time (CET)
11:00 - 18:00 Istanbul time
14:00 - 21:00 Nursultan time

Business and Human Rights

in Eastern Europe and Central Asia

In November 2020, the UNDP Istanbul and Bangkok Regional Hubs and the United Nations Working Group on Business and Human Rights convened the first Regional Forum on Business and Human Rights in Eastern Europe and Central Asia to promote a vigorous dialogue on BHR in the region. Over three days, the virtual Forum brought together over 850 participants and viewers from civil society, private sector, governments, NHRIs, academia, labor and international organizations working on business and human rights in the ECIS region and beyond. The discussions contributed to raising awareness of business and human rights and promoting the UNGPs in the region. The Forum also aimed to evaluate the main achievements, opportunities and remaining challenges to implementing the BHR agenda. It provided inputs on the practices, gaps, and challenges necessary for scaling up the implementation of the UNGPs in the next decade.

Following the first edition's success, the UNDP Istanbul Regional Hub and the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights will convene the 2nd UN Forum on Business and Human Rights on 11-12 November 2021.

As a vital platform for sharing existing and emerging business and human rights practices within the countries of Eastern Europe and Central Asia, the online Forum is expected to enable meaningful exchange and facilitate constructive dialogue and peer-learning among government officials, representatives of businesses, international organizations, civil society, and academia from the ECIS region and beyond.

The 2nd UN Forum on Business and Human Rights in Eastern Europe and Central Asia will discuss the national and regional efforts for full implementation of the UNGPs, such as NAPs, corporate human rights due diligence, and the role of the State as an economic actor. In addition, it will address key regional trends, challenges and opportunities for the business and human rights agenda in the ECIS region, such as the upcoming EU's directive on HRDD, human rights protection in extractive industries, the role of trade unions, persistent discrimination and inequalities in business practices, and shrinking civic space for human rights defenders.



The Forum will be held in English with simultaneous Russian translations. 

11 NOVEMBER 2021

All Times in Central European Time (CET)

09:00 – 9:30

Introduction to UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights

Unanimously endorsed by the Human Rights Council in 2011, the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs) provide a framework to address and improve human rights standards in the business sector. They define the State's duty to protect human rights in business operations, the business' responsibility to respect human rights, and for both to provide remedies when violations occur. This optional session will give a quick introduction to the UNGPs ahead of the Forum. 


  • Siniša Milatović, Business and Human Rights Specialist, UNDP

  • Harpreet Kaur, Business and Human Rights Specialist, UNDP Asia-Pacific Regional Centre

09:30 – 09:35       

Registration and Introduction of the Forum Platform

09:35 – 10:20        

High-Level Opening Plenary - Business and Human Rights Agenda in 2021: Global Trends

The session will set the stage of the event and present the objectives of the 2nd UN Forum on Business and Human Rights as a key regional platform for dialogue and exchange on the BHR agenda. The keynote remarks will help frame the meeting's discussions around priority issues in globally responsible business practice, emphasizing growing momentum worldwide, especially in Europe, towards improving corporate human rights performance through mandatory human rights due diligence. 


  • Robert Bernardo, Governance and Peacebuilding Team Leader, UNDP Istanbul Regional Hub


  • Gerd Trogemann, Manager, UNDP Regional Hub for Europe and Central Asia

  • Surya Deva, Chair, United Nations Working Group on Business and Human Rights

  • Ella Skybenko, Eastern Europe/Central Asia Senior Researcher & Representative,
    Business and Human Rights Resource Center

  • Renate Hornung-Draus, Vice-President, International Organisation of Employers

  • Javier Martín CerracínPolicy Officer, Human Rights Division, European External Action Service (EEAS)

10:20 – 10:35

10:35 - 10:40

10:40 – 11:20



Session I – Setting the Scene: Regional BHR Trends, Challenges, and Opportunities

Based on the soon to be released UNDP Scoping Study findings on the Implementation of UNGPs in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, the session is expected to provide a deep dive and reflection on critical regional and national trends in the BHR agenda. The research team will present the regional trends and recommendations for addressing those, including persistent discrimination and violation of labor rights, emerging push for mandatory human rights due diligence, the increasing roles of trade unions, extractive industries and State-Owned Enterprises and challenges of shrinking civic space for human rights defenders.


  • Ainura Bekkoenova, Policy Specialist on Rule of Law, Security and Human Rights, Governance and Peacebuilding, Istanbul Regional Hub

Presentation of UNDP scoping study on the Status of the Implementation of the UNGPs on Business and Human Rights (B+HR) in Eastern Europe and Central Asia (The study provides a summary of the status of B+HR in the ECIS region, outlining general developments and emerging issues and trends, including reflections on government, civil society, and private sector responses to COVID-19, and the potential impact of the upcoming directive by the European Union introducing mandatory human rights and environmental due diligence on the promotion of B+HR regionally. The study also provides recommendations for UNDP regarding opportunities and potential strategic entry points for advancing the B+HR agenda at the country and regional levels)

Research Team

  • Beata Faracik, LL.M., BHR Expert, President of the Board of the Institute for Human Rights and Business, Poland

  • Prof. Jernej Letnar Černič, Professor of Constitutional Law & Human Rights, Ljubljana, Slovenia

  • Olena Uvarova, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Chair of the International Business and Human Rights Lab, Yaroslav Mudryi National Law University, Ukraine

Reflections on Linkages of Regional to Global Trends and Issues

  • Dante PESCE, Director, Center Vincular at Catholic University of Valparaíso, Chile (Former Member of the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights and Leader of the Stocktaking Exercise and Next Decade Roadmap Project)

11:20 – 11:35

11:35 – 11:40

11:40 – 12:40



Session II – The State Duty to Protect Human Rights in a Business Context in Eastern
Europe and Central Asia

The session will allow participants to review the progress made by states in the region in developing a comprehensive national business and human rights policy. Government representatives and civil society organizations from the region and beyond will present their experiences and lessons learned in developing national action plans on human rights and baseline assessments. The discussion will also center around recommendations on promoting NAPs and NBAs as means to implement the UNGPs in the region, including the measures on strengthening respective roles of Governments, civil society, and businesses.


  • Livio Sarandrea, Global Business and Human Rights Adviser, UNDP


  • Fabrizio Petri, President, Inter-Ministerial Committee for Human Rights, Italy

  • Niko Tatulashvili, Adviser to the Prime Minister on Human Rights, Georgia

  • Mirela Geko, Lead Project Manager, Institute for Youth Development KULT, Bosnia and Herzegovina

  • Nareeluc Pairchaiyapoom, Director, International Human Rights Division, Ministry of Justice, Thailand

  • Olena Stepanenko, Representative of the Commissioner on Economic and Social Rights, Ukraine

12:40 – 13:00

13:00 – 13:30

13:30 – 14:20



Session III – The Onset of Mandatory Human Rights due Diligence in the EU and its
Member States: The Implications for Eastern Europe and Central Asia

Recent years have seen several European member states adopt mandatory human rights due diligence laws, such as Netherlands, Norway, Germany and France. The EU itself is developing legislation on the subject, which is expected to be adopted later this year or in 2022. The implications of these laws for the region and its businesses stand to be significant, given their close ties to the EU and its market. This session will explore the economic, legal, and policy implications of these laws and the trend for greater regulation of business impacts on human rights.


  • Siniša Milatović, Business and Human Rights Specialist, UNDP


  • Heidi Hautala, MEP, Vice President of the European Parliament & Chair of the EP Working Group on Responsible Business Conduct

  • Wolfgang Bindseil, Head, Business and Human Rights Division, Federal Foreign Office, Germany

  • Tomislav Ivančić, Advisor, Global Value Chains, Responsible Business and Investment, FAO

  • Julie Vallat, Vice President for Human Rights, L’Oreal

  • Additional Speaker (TBC)

14:20 – 14:40

14:40 – 14:45

14:45 – 15:45



Session IV – Joint Session by the International Organisation of Employers and the
Global Business Initiative "What Mandatory Human Rights due Diligence will Mean for You: A Discussion with Businesses."

With mandatory human rights and environmental due diligence (mHREDD) increasingly the direction of travel, companies around the world will need to be prepared for further regulatory requirements. This session will explore current national frameworks with an eye towards national and regional mHREDD legislation. Even if companies are not directly covered by the different legislation, they will be affected as it will impact supply chain management and requirements by buyers within the direct scope of the legislation. This session will offer practical insights for businesses on how to prepare themselves for the changing legal landscape.

Welcome and Introductions (14:45-14:50)

The Changing Legal Landscape and What it Means for Business (14:50-15:15)


  • Sophia Areias, Director, Global Business Initiative on Human Rights


  • Dr. Thomas Voland, Partner, Clifford Chance 

  • Åsne Burgess Øyehaug, Social Responsibility Manager – Group Sustainability, Norsk Hydro ASA, Norway

  • Elaine McKay, International Affairs Director, JTI

Views from the Region (15:15-15:35)


  • Gabriella Rigg Herzog, Chair of the IOE Policy Working Group on Human Rights and Responsible Business Conduct


  • Mile Boskov, Executive President, Business Confederation of Macedonia

  • Anna Devdariani, Legal Department of the  Georgian Employers' Association (GEA)

Q&A (15:35-15:50)

15:50 – 16:00

Wrap-up of Day 1

12 NOVEMBER 2021

All Times in Central European Time (CET)

09:00 – 09:10

Opening of Day 2

09:10 – 10:00

Session V - Access to Remedy and Shrinking Civic Space

The session will allow participants to reflect on measures to protect human rights defenders facing reprisal and intimidation for their efforts to provide victims of business-related abuses in the region with a remedy. The focus will be on the shrinking civic space impacting those seeking to shine a spotlight on human rights abuses by businesses. The tools and measures that promote effective State-based judicial mechanisms, State-based non-judicial grievance mechanisms, and non-State-based grievance mechanisms to business-related human rights abuses will also be reviewed and discussed. 


  • Luis Rodriguez-Pinero Royo, Human Rights Officer, OHCHR


  • Sergey Solyanik, Consultant, Crude Accountability, Kazakhstan

  • Umida Niyazova, Executive Director, Uzbek Forum for Human Rights, Uzbekistan

  • Nodira Abdulloeva, Human Rights Center, Tajikistan

  • Victoria Marquez-Mees, Chief Accountability Officer & Managing Director, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development

  • Yan Feldman, President, Council for Preventing and Eliminating Discrimination and Ensuring Equality, Moldova 

10:00 – 10:20

10:20 – 10:25

10:25 – 11:20



Session VI – The Impact of Extractive Industries on the Environment and Human Rights

Abuses by the extractive companies, such as in mines and oil fields, reportedly include severe environmental impacts and the creation of hazardous working conditions, which often go unaddressed and unremedied across the region. There is a lack of attention to the human rights impact of state-owned enterprises (SOEs), which have a significant presence in the region's key economic sectors, including energy, mining, agriculture, transport, and construction. The traditional preferential regulatory treatment and direct subsidization of SOEs result in these companies focusing less on environmental and human rights due diligence in their operations. The session will explore the status of human rights impacts of these actors, such as extractive industries and the state-owned enterprises in the region, and reflect on the measures to strengthen their positive roles in UNGPs implementation.


  • Laura Altinger, Nature, Climate Change and Energy Team Leader, UNDP Istanbul Regional Hub


  • Ashley Reynolds, Research Assistant, Eastern Europe & Central Asia, Business and Human Rights Resource Center

  • Kety Gujaraidze, Policy Analyst, Green Alternative, Georgia

  • Inga Zarafyan, President, Ecolur Network, Armenia

  • Maryna Kupchuk, Head, Secretariat of OECD National Contact Point, Ukraine

  • Duman Mussin, Head of Organizational and Sustainable Development Unit, KazMunaiGaz

11:20 – 11:40

11:40 – 11:45

11:45 – 12:40



Session VII – Persistent Discrimination and Inequality in Business Practices in the Region

The persistent gender inequality and intolerance towards vulnerable groups, which are reflected in business practices and corporate relations, remain a significant challenge for the region. During this session, participants will reflect and exchange on issues of intersectional discrimination and differentiated impacts experienced by specific population groups, such as women, youth, migrant workers, persons with disabilities, LGBTQI+, the Roma, and people living with HIV/AIDS in the context of business activities. The session will also facilitate an action-oriented discussion on human rights and gender-based approaches that States, business enterprises, and other stakeholders could use to advance gender equality and inclusion in Eastern Europe and Central Asia.


  • Blerta Cela, Deputy Regional Director, UN Women


  • Robert Gajda, Commissioner for Protection from Discrimination, Albania

  • Amarildo Fecanji, Executive Co-Director, LGBTI Equal Rights Association for Western Balkans and Turkey

  • Annie Van Klaveren, Consultant, ILO

  • Alexandr Curașov, Executive Director of "SHARE", CSR Association of Moldova

  • Renata Yaresko, Head, Public Relationship Department, EnergoAtom, Ukraine

12:40 – 13:00

13:00 – 13:30

13:30 – 14:20



Session VIII – Role of Trade Unions in Due Diligence and Remediation of Adverse Human
Rights Impacts

The event will explore the role of trade unions in promoting respect for labour rights by businesses in the region. It will also discuss how trade unions can help ensure victims of business-related abuses obtain remedies and what reforms are needed to ensure trade unions play a strong part in promoting the business and human rights agenda in the region. 


  • Gocha Aleksandria, Senior Specialist in Workers Activities, ILO Decent Work Technical Support Team and Country Office for Eastern Europe and Central Asia, ILO


  • Bohdan Overkovskiy, Vice-President, Trade Union of Metalworkers and Miners of Ukraine, PMGU Ukraine

  • Tamazi Dolaberidze, President, Trade Union of Miners, Metallurgists and Chemical Industry Workers of Georgia

  • Kemal Özkan, Assistant General Secretary, IndustriALL Global Union

14:20 – 14:35

14:35 – 14:40

14:40 – 15:30



Session IX - Business and Human rights in Conflict-Affected Areas

The session will highlight the issue of the responsibility of businesses in protecting vulnerable people affected by conflict, given that the region has ongoing and protracted conflicts/disputes with large displaced populations. In 2020, the UNWG issued a report on the issue, which underscored, as one of its key findings, that businesses operating in conflict-affected areas are required to conduct a 'heightened' version of human rights due diligence. Thus, businesses' usual HRDD practice needs to be complemented by a conflict-sensitive approach in conflict contexts. The session will unpack the report's implications and will highlight efforts to implement the UNWG's recommendations in the region, including the toolkit being developed by UNDP to guide businesses in conflict-affected areas. 


  • Siniša Milatović, Business and Human Rights Specialist, UNDP


  • Gerald Pachoud, Expert, Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights, Former Adviser to UN Special Representative on Business and Human Rights

  • Besik Bugianishvili, Director, Peace Fund for a Better Future, Georgia

  • Nathalie Komatitsch, Former Director for Human Rights, TotalEnergies

  • Ganna Khrystova, Senior Project Officer, Council of Europe Office in Ukraine

15:30 – 15:45

15:45 – 16:00


Closure of the Forum


  • Elżbieta Karska, Vice-Chair, UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights

  • Gerd Trogemann, Manager, UNDP Regional Hub for Europe and Central Asia

Please check back regularly for updates, speaker information

and announcements.

In partnership with

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Please direct your queries related to programme, sessions, speakers, participation, side events etc. to

Ainura Bekkoenova 

and Anastasia Baskina

Please direct all registration and Zoom technical questions to