Over the past 4 years, Forest Peoples Programme and various national NGO partners have been collaborating with the (the South East Asia National Forum) which brings together the national human rights commissions in South East Asia to hold a series of regional conferences on Human Rights and Agribusiness. These meetings have the aim of ensuring that land-based development projects respect human rights, through awareness-raising, standards review and framework reform.
Jointly with the relevant human rights commissions in the region, we have already held four meetings – in Indonesia in 2011, Cambodia in 2012, Thailand in 2013 and Myanmar in 2014. These meetings seek to convene the SEANF members, other government agencies, key regional human rights groups and local civil society organisations to review developments and explore how to move ahead with our aims in ways most relevant to the local hosts.
The main aims have been to develop frameworks which make human rights obligations become binding on transnational and national agribusiness companies and build a network of concerned actors who can work together to make change happen on the ground in line with the respective mandates.
The upcoming meeting to be co-hosted by the Philippines National Human Rights Commission and the Philippines Coalition Against Land Grabbing (CALG) will be held in Palawan where there is a rapid expansion underway of oil palm plantations. Participants will be expected to share updates from their organisations on relevant developments and jointly review, with the Philippines as a prime example, the extent to which national regulatory framework might better integrate human rights standards.