The Commonwealth Secretariat, the Government of Mauritius and the Mauritius Chamber of Commerce and Industry jointly hosted a webinar this week to help companies promote and protect human rights within all business activity.
Held on 25 September 2023, the webinar brought together business leaders from various sectors in Mauritius, including tourism, legal, financial services and technology.
Understanding global frameworks
Participants were presented with an overview of the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights which were unanimously endorsed by the Human Rights Council as a set of guidelines to mitigate human rights violations associated with business activities.
This in-depth presentation helped participants gain a better understanding of the impact that business activities can have on the human rights of workers, consumers, and communities.
A timely conversation
Opening the webinar, Honourable Avinash Teeluck, Minister of Arts and Cultural Heritage, Mauritius, acknowledged the significance of the online event taking place during the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Recognising the webinar’s importance, he said:
“This online event will enable a better understanding of the range of human rights issues related to business so that [enterprises] are in a better position to promote and protect human rights [in Mauritius].”
Minister Teeluck further expressed his appreciation for the support provided by the Commonwealth Secretariat’s Human Rights Unit to the Government of Mauritius.
During the webinar, participants engaged in interactive discussions to examine some of the most pressing human rights issues confronting companies, such as modern slavery, privacy and data protection, and environmental impacts.
In response, they unpacked good practices, such as robust grievance mechanisms, to overcome these challenges.
A recurring message throughout the discussion was the recognition that, while the integration of human rights is imperative for businesses, a key challenge remains a lack of awareness across industry sectors.
In her remarks, Dr Shavana Haythornthwaite, Head of the Commonwealth Secretariat’s Human Rights Unit, spoke about the webinar’s overarching goal.
She said the webinar aimed to not only raise awareness of the rapidly evolving landscape of business and human rights, but to also facilitate the seamless integration of human rights principles within policies and operations of businesses as an essential component.
The webinar was jointly organised by the Commonwealth Secretariat’s Human Rights Unit, the Human Rights Division of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Regional Integration and International Trade of Mauritius, and the Mauritius Chamber of Commerce and Industry.