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Promoting responsible business and human rights in global trade

The focus of international trade and investment policy has been broadening in recent years beyond a “more is better” approach in favour of placing greater emphasis on the quality of investment that countries receive and how this impacts domestic conditions. A critical dimension of this shift concerns expectations around better business practices. ITF Secretary-General Young Tae Kim highlighted the importance of transport in addressing negative impacts on people and the planet that may be linked with global supply chains and global trade and investment at the UN Responsible Business and Human Rights Forum, held in Bangkok, Thailand, on 13 June 2019 (photo).

In his welcome address, Mr Kim explored controversial aspects that increased connectivity can bring, such as human trafficking and diseases. Transport is identified as a critical strategic priority at the G20 level, in Southeast Asia (the ASEAN theme for 2019 is connectivity) but its development inherently carries negative responsible business conduct (RBC) risks, he said. Given that most governments seek private sector participation not just in financing but also the delivery of transport assets, this blurs the line between who is responsible for human rights impacts. Mr Kim highlighted ITF's work addressing gender and transport, as well as the decarbonisation of the sector. The promotion of equality, diversity and inclusion in the transport sector is critical to its sustainable development in both developing and developed countries and will serve the needs of all transport users and workers in the transport workforce, he said.

While in Thailand, Mr Kim held bilateral talks with Arthayudh Srisamoot (Deputy Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Thailand). Mr Kim encouraged Thailand and other Southeast Asian countries to join the ITF and both discussed the current challenges, trends and visions in the region, and the value ITF can bring as a global policy platform.

Mr Kim also provided the welcome address and participated in the ITF/UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) meeting on Supporting Traffic Safety Information System of Countries in Southeast Asia. This meeting involved around 60 participants from ASEAN countries. The focus was on improving road crash data in ASEAN countries.