Asian regional dialogue on women’s rights and natural resources

Publish Date: 
Friday, June 16, 2017

ESCR-Net member IWRAW-AP together with Cambodian Women’s Crisis Centre and Gender and Development for Cambodia (GADC), co-organized a “Regional Dialogue on Women’s Rights and Natural Resources” in Phnom Penh, Cambodia between 30 May- 1 June 2017. The objectives of the dialogue included discussing key concerns for women’s rights and natural resources in the ASEAN region and sharing strategies to promote and protect women’s rights to natural resources.

In a panel together with IWRAW-AP and Gender Equality Network Myanmar, Women and ESCR Working Group program coordinator Aya Fujimura-Fanselow presented on the ways in which international human rights instruments, namely the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) can be utilized to advance women’s rights to natural resources including through parallel reporting. The presentation also highlighted the collective work that the Women and ESCR Working Group members have undertaken on the topic of land and natural resources. These efforts include a mapping report on women’s rights related to land, housing and natural resources that was based on survey responses from approximately 60 ESCR-Net members.

Sanyu Aowri, Programme Officer International Women's Rights Action Watch Asia Pacific (IWRAW-AP) and Harpreet Kaur, Business and Human Rights Resource Centre discussing the Posco case

Additionally, in recent years, the WESCR WG organized two capacity building workshops (Mexico City, November 2014 and Nairobi, June 2015) which included sessions or discussions in relation to HLNR. Following these workshops, the WESCR WG organized a more extensive strategy meeting in Montevideo focused on HLNR in August 2015. During discussions at the Global Strategy Meeting (November 2016) Working Group members expressed a continued commitment to prioritizing collective work on housing, land and natural resources among several topics.

More broadly, ESCR-Net has been invited to support the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in developing a General Comment that would provide guidance to States regarding their human rights obligations relating to land. Over the last six months, the Network secretariat has reached out to members through both virtual and in-person consultations to invite their views and recommendations with regards to topics that a future General Comment will seek to address, and rendered those inputs available to the Committee.

Chet Charya, Executive Director, STAR Kampuchea and staff

The ASEAN regional dialogue consisted of a combination of panel sessions as well as small group discussions that provided the opportunity for engagement and exchange between groups. Individuals representing organizations throughout the ASEAN region discussed the priority issues in their respective countries, including those that are of particular concern to indigenous peoples. Discussions also focused on how to advance corporate accountability, including through the use of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, to address women’s rights to natural resources.

In addition, a panel was dedicated to examining the gendered aspects of access to remedy for business-related human rights abuses, partially for the purpose of contributing to the report that the Working Group on Business and Human Rights is preparing on this topic for presentation to the UN General Assembly.

On the last day of the meeting, a “multi-stakeholder dialogue” created an opportunity for women’s rights organizations to engage with State representatives, ASEAN institutions and actors from the private sector.