Monday, November 28 • 10:00am - 11:20am
Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) - Regional trends and stakeholder dialogue

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(Русская версия прилагается)

Interpretation available in English and Russian

Session organized by the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights, in collaboration with Polish Institute for Human Rights and Business (PL) and Y. Mudryi National Law University (UA)

Brief description of the session:
In the Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) region, following the transition from centrally-planned economies to capitalism, legal frameworks are often designed to promote the private sector. In some cases, particularly where there is entrenched corruption, this can lead to business exemptions from their obligations to respect human rights. In addition, informal employment and unemployment are increasingly widespread problems in the region, while legislation is lagging behind, leaving those working in the gig economy vulnerable and unprotected. These issues are being exacerbated and perpetuated by toxic working culture, ‘feudal’ management styles and a lack of engagement with stakeholders in the region. In this context, the upcoming European Union framework on mandatory human rights due diligence – which will have a spillover effect on the broader region due to supply chain structures - has a chance to provide an opportunity to address some of these issues, but risks sending insufficiently strong signals about the importance of meaningful and safe stakeholder engagement.

Key objectives of the session:
The session aims to touch on:
  • New forms of labour relationships, with a focus on flexibility and vulnerability
  • Importance of stakeholder dialogue
  • De-regulation and its impact on labour rights
  • Gender discrimination in the workplace 
  • Provision of essential goods and services during armed conflict while ensuring respect for the rights of their employees
  • Voluntary and mandatory human rights due diligence (HRDD), including heightened HRDD

Key discussion questions:
  • How should vulnerable labour relationships be challenged and corrected/improved?
  • What characterizes a good and meaningful stakeholder dialogue with workers (employees, contracted workers, temporary workers, delegated workers, people employed on civil law contracts, people on involuntary self-employement on B2B contract, etc.)?
  • How should effective remedies be designed and implemented, and how should access to them be secured and ensured?

Background to the discussion:
The region faces a multitude of issues, which range from unfruitful efforts to develop strategies on labour law protections, to challenges to uphold workers’ rights during crises, including the COVID-19 pandemic and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. This general context makes the position of employees especially precarious and increases vulnerabilities of those who suffer from discrimination and don't have access to effective remedies. To address these issues, among others, requires efforts from States, business and CSOs to develop mechanisms to avoid the risk of silence on salient human rights abuses in labour relationships.

Additional background documents:

avatar for Olena Uvarova

Olena Uvarova

Head of Business and Human Rights Lab, Yaroslav Mudryi National Law University, Ukraine
Dr. Olena Uvarova, PhD in Law (2010), Associate Professor, since 2018, she leads the International Lab on Business and Human Rights at Yaroslav Mudryi National Law University (Kharkiv, Ukraine). In June 2022, Olena joined Wageningen University, Law Group, as a Visiting Researcher.Her... Read More →

avatar for Beata Faracik

Beata Faracik

Co-Founder and President of the Board, Polish Institute for Human Rights and Business
Beata Faracik is a co-founder and President of the board of PIHRB. A legal expert specialized in Human Rights & Business and RBC/CSR, she has approximately 20 years of professional experience the in public, private, and NGO sectors in various countries, including the Ministry of Justice... Read More →
avatar for Anton Leppik

Anton Leppik

Pan-European Regional Council Executive Secretary, ITUC
As Executive Secretary of the Pan-European Regional Council of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC-PERC), Anton Leppik is responsible for implementation of the ITUC policies and activities in a broad region of Europe and Central Asia. The main priorities include promoting... Read More →
avatar for Biljana Solakovska-Mihajlovska

Biljana Solakovska-Mihajlovska

Regional Coordinator Eastern Europe, Fair Wear
avatar for Olena Kolobrodova

Olena Kolobrodova

Representative of the Ombudsman on Social and Economic Rights, Ombudsperson Office of Ukraine
avatar for Artur Sakunts

Artur Sakunts

Director, Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly
Artur Sakunts is the Chairman of Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly – Vanadzor. He has beeninvolved in human rights activism since 1992. In 1998, Artur co-founded HelsinkiCitizens’ Assembly Vanadzor office NGO, that is now one of the prominent humanrights organizations of Armenia.Artur... Read More →
avatar for Zarina Bakenova

Zarina Bakenova

General Manager Government and External Relations, North Caspian Operating Company n.v.
Mrs Bakenova was appointed General Manager for Government and External Relations / Business Adviser to the Managing Director of NCOC n.v. based in Astana in August 2021. Her responsibilities include central and local government and external relations, as well as execution of NCOC’s... Read More →

Monday November 28, 2022 10:00am - 11:20am CET