Wednesday, November 30 • 11:40am - 1:00pm
Progress and opportunities for strengthening BHR in the Middle East and North Africa region

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Interpretation available in English, French and Spanish

Session organized by the UN Working Group on business and human rights

Brief description of the session:
In 2011, the United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC) unanimously endorsed the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs). They articulate the obligations of States and the responsibilities of companies to prevent and address adverse human rights impacts of business activities.

While the UNGPs have increasingly become better known by governments, businesses, national human rights institutions (NHRIs), civil society actors, academia and the legal community across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, significant gaps remain to translate the UNGPs into effective protection and remedy frameworks that advance corporate responsibility for human rights and the environment across the region.

The Roadmap for the next decade of business and human rights developed by the Working Group offers the MENA region a framework to further implement the UNGPs from a rights holder’s perspective, and an opportunity for private sector actors to leverage their positions to advance responsible business practices in all economic sectors. The MENA region faces a number of human rights challenges and includes a number of countries with varying economic and social levels. The region is still facing ongoing conflicts in Yemen, and Syria and has experienced diverse levels of economic growth and social change. A number of the counties in the region are heavily reliant on the fossil fuel industry and are currently in the process of grappling with the global pressure of moving from brown to green economies. This change offers the region an opportunity to further implement the UN guiding principles on business and human rights and an opportunity for the private sector to leverage its position to see positive human rights changes. Challenges in relation to inequalities, discrimination, technological advancements, migration, gender, corruption still remain, however there are opportunities for multistakeholder dialogue between States, businesses, civil society organizations and other stakeholders to word together to advance human rights and protect the environment.

This session will explore amongst a spectrum of actors the progress that has been made on the business and human rights agenda and will aim to identify areas that can be further advanced and which protection gaps still remain. The session will also look at the implementation of the UNGPs, in particular, highlighting government action and the development of Business and Human Rights National Action Plans (NAPs).

Key objectives of the session:
  • Examine ways in which the UNGPs have been used to strengthen human rights and environmental protection in the MENA region and emerging tangible impacts for rights holders.
  • Encourage open and constructive multi-stakeholder dialogue on the challenges involved in protecting and promoting human rights in a business setting in the MENA region;
  • Provide an opportunity for States and businesses to discuss ways in which the UNGPs can be translated into clear and comprehensive laws, National Action Plans, policies and programmes;
  • Discuss practical steps to advance greater awareness on, and the implementation of the UNGPs across the MENA region and build the capacity of all stakeholders to use the UNGPs as an effective tool for all stakeholders to discharge their respective duties and responsibilities to protect and respect human rights and the environment.
Key discussion questions:
  • How can the MENA region harness the potential of its youth to develop sustainable, inclusive and rights-based economic and social framework?
  • How can the private sector use its leverage to protect and promote human rights in the MENA region?

avatar for Livio Sarandrea

Livio Sarandrea

Global Adviser on Business and Human Rights, UNDP
Livio Sarandrea, is UNDP’s Global Adviser on Business and Human Rights. IN this function he coordinates a team of 50+ experts supporting the implementation of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights in 39 countries across five continents. Livio is based in Geneva.In... Read More →

avatar for Philipp Bremer

Philipp Bremer

Director, Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung Rule of Law Programme Middle East & North Africa
Philipp Bremer has been Director of the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung Rule of Law Programme Middle East and North Africa, based in Beirut, Lebanon, since July 2021. Previously, he worked as a lawyer for an international law firm for 3 1/2 years, during which time he also spent six months... Read More →
avatar for Riyad FAKHRI


Legal Professor, Université Hassan 1er · faculty of law Juris Doctor
- Professor of higher education specializing in business law since 2002,- Director of the Business Law Research Laboratory at the Hassan 1er University of Settat Morocco since 2009- Expert evaluator of scientific projects contracted with CNRST Morocco since 2020- Scientific director... Read More →
avatar for Noor Hamadeh

Noor Hamadeh

Advocacy Counsel, International Corporate Accountability Roundtable (ICAR)
Noor Hamadeh is an Advocacy Counsel at the International Corporate Accountability Roundtable (ICAR). She is an international human rights lawyer, with a focus on human rights issues in the Middle East and business and human rights. She is also the co-host of the Branch 251 podcast... Read More →
avatar for Sonya Janahi

Sonya Janahi

Founder & CEO, Maya La Chocolaterie & The Living Concepts
Responsible for pioneering and executing business and marketing strategies for several companies within the group of my ownership, with over 25 years experience in banking and investment and telecom industries, as well as the retail, real estate, and food beverages sectors.One of... Read More →
avatar for Hannah Peters

Hannah Peters

Head of Unit Natural Resources, Swedwatch
avatar for Nizar Ben Sghaier

Nizar Ben Sghaier

General Director, Presidence du gouvernement , République tunisienne
After law studies , Nizar BEN SGHAIER obtained a masters degree in legal studies, he completed a master's degree in law of  the European Union and a Masters of company law.A graduate of the ENA of Tunis (2003) and ENA de France (2010), he began his career in 2003 in the office of... Read More →

Wednesday November 30, 2022 11:40am - 1:00pm CET