The Office of the Special Representative and Co-ordinator for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings of the OSCE Secretariat, together with the OSCE Mission to Serbia and ASTRA – anti trafficking action, will organize this conference in Belgrade, Serbia, in order to gather and update relevant stakeholders and officials on global trends and challenges of integrating human rights due diligence in legal and regulatory frameworks in the EU and globally (e.g., Germany, Norway, Slovenia, USA), and its implications for the private sector. The conference aims at enhancing and expanding the political discussion around business and human rights in Serbia, following up on a previous conference in September 2021.
The conference gathered representatives of the Government of Serbia, chambers of commerce, trade unions, associations of employers, national human rights institution, academia, labour inspectors, civil society organizations and other private and public stakeholders in the prevention and suppression of THB for the purposes of labour exploitation in supply chains.
The conference aims to:
- raise awareness and continue the dialogue on the importance of developing and implementing policies and practices aimed at the prevention of THB in supply chains;
- map the current state of play and take stock of best practises and experiences from other countries like Germany, Norway and Slovenia in enhancing the institutional response;
- strenghten cooperation between the state institutions and private sector in ensuring the respect of human rights in the course of the procurement processes;
- present guidelines and recommendations developed by the OSCE and discuss the most feasable ways of translating them into legal and policy framework best suited to Serbia’s context.
The conference consisted of several presentations and panel discussions: (1) Human Rights Due Diligence in Combating Human Trafficking and Forced Labour in Supply Chains: Overview on legislative developments and recommended government measures; (2) Human Rights Due Diligence in government policy frameworks and legislation: Lessons learned from the OSCE region; (3) Human Rights Due Diligence in Serbia: ASTRA Report and recommendations for Serbia; (4) Human Rights Due Diligence in public procurement: OSCE Case Study and current developments in Serbia; (5) Multilateral Human Rights Due Diligence initiatives in Serbia and the region.
During the course of the conference, representatives from the OSCE, Serbia, and other participating States from the OSCE region shared their experiences and vision on how current international and EU developments might be reflected and practically implemented in Serbia’s context. The conference provided an opportunity to open a dialogue on the legal framework and policies against THB in supply chains in Serbia, as well as for formulating conclusions towards development or appropriate adjustments of policy and implementation.
As a side event, the conference was preceded by a round table for representatives of the business sector, SOCIAL AND ENVIRONMENTAL SUSTAINABILITY IN SUPPLY CHAINS: Business Roundtable on the latest developments in supply chain legislation, policy, and practice − held on March 21.
The Business Roundtable complemented the political conference by focusing more on the needs of the private sector. The German Helpdesk on Business & Human Rights, a free support service of the German Federal Government, shared its extensive experience in advising companies of all sizes on the implementation of social and environmental sustainability processes. Participants got an overview of the political and legal developments of the subject matter. They had the opportunity to share good practice examples and learn from each other. In addition, several support offers, including the newly established local Helpdesk Business & Human Rights by the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Serbia (Privredna Komora Srbije, PKS), were presented.
The roundtable was co-hosted by the OSCE and the German Helpdesk on Business & Human Rights, in cooperation with the local Helpdesk on Business & Human Rights by the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Serbia (PKS) and the Initiative for Global Solidarity by the German Development Agency (GIZ). The goal was to foster the debate among Serbian companies, buying companies and social and environmental sustainability experts.
The event brought together Serbian companies from various sectors (e.g., automotive, mechanical engineering, renewable energy, textiles, chemicals, manufacturing), buying companies from key export markets and social and environmental sustainability experts to discuss the implications of mandatory due diligence for the business hub Serbia. Experts include representatives from International Organizations (e.g., OSCE, ILO), the German Embassy to Serbia, implementing agencies (e.g., GIZ, German Helpdesk on Business & Human Rights), as well as the German Chamber of Commerce (AHK)/ Business Scout for Development, and the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Serbia (PKS).