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Monday, November 26 • 4:40pm - 6:00pm
Disruptive technology II: What does automation mean for human rights due diligence?

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Interpretation is provided in English, French and Spanish

Organized by Business and Human Rights Resource Centre and the International Corporate Accountability Roundtable (ICAR)

The Fourth Industrial Revolution is marked by technological advance of unprecedented scale and velocity—carrying with it tremendous promise and risk. The automation of low-skilled jobs has the potential to bring positive human rights impacts, such as improved workplace safety. However, there is also a risk that the use of machines to increase productivity will result in mounting inequality through downward pressure on wages and loss of jobs. Workers in low-skilled positions, particularly in the apparel and electronics sectors in the Global South, face an increased risk of bearing the negative effects of automation. Women and migrant workers make up large portions of both of these workforces and as they tend to face greater discrimination in the workplace, may be more likely to be displaced by machines.

This session will explore emerging practices, challenges, and solutions for human rights due diligence in the context of automation. It will address the question of whether today’s human rights due diligence tools and methods are equipped to address the impacts of increased automation and explore good practices in human rights due diligence for companies. This session will strongly feature the perspectives and experiences of workers and will also touch on the importance of supportive policies and the role of government.

  • Catalyze companies, NGOs, government representatives and other stakeholders to acknowledge the human rights impacts of increased automation and mechanization within global supply chains, using apparel and electronics manufacturing as examples and by amplifying the voices of potentially affected workers;
  • Utilize existing frameworks to determine concrete steps key stakeholders and businesses should take to protect workers in their supply chains as their company or its suppliers increasingly integrate automation; and
  • Explore the shared responsibility of companies, governments, and other key stakeholders to protect the rights of workers and impacted communities throughout the transition to the future of work.

Discussion Segments
  • Segment 1 – framing comments on the human rights risks and potential positive benefits associated with automation and mechanization
  • Segment 2 – worker perspectives
  • Segment 3 – workshop to explore the application of existing frameworks in the context of human rights due diligence and the human rights risks to automation. Participants will not need to be familiar with the details of each framework, as each group will receive discussion questions, as well as the relevant points about the key concepts within each framework.
    • BSR Responsible Automation Framework
    • Just Transition Framework
    • Factory Closures and Retrenchment Best Practices
  • Segment 4 – report back and discussion

The session will take place in the form of a workshop and discussion with comments from key discussants representing workers, companies, civil society organisations, and governments. Key discussans will frame the discussion, provide unique perspectives, or lead discussion groups, depending on their role. Key discussants are intended to encourage interactivity and dialogue within workshop groups before the floor is opened up to discussion on the given framework. Moderators will also provide a brief summary of the discussion at the end of the session.

Moderator/ Introductory Remark...
avatar for Phil Bloomer

Phil Bloomer

Executive Director, Business & Human Rights Resource Centre
Phil became Executive Director of Business & Human Rights Resource Centre in 2013. Phil leads strategy and outreach globally working with 80 global team members and allies. Programmes are focused on transformation of business and investment models especially in areas of the just transition... Read More →
avatar for Meg Roggensack

Meg Roggensack


avatar for Yousuf Aftab

Yousuf Aftab

Principal, Enodo Rights
avatar for Abby Henderson

Abby Henderson

Advocacy Counsel, ICAR
avatar for Padmini Ranganathan

Padmini Ranganathan

Global Vice President, Products & Innovation, SAP Ariba
- Applying technology to bring transparency in supply chains, to enable socially sustainable supply chains- Real world challenges in the areas of tracking and monitoring labor rights, fair wages and inclusion in all nodes of the supply chain
avatar for Philippe-André Rodriguez

Philippe-André Rodriguez

Senior Advisor, Global Affairs Canada’s Center for International Digital Policy
Artificial Intelligence and Human Rights, Big Data, Automation, Privacy, Data Governance
avatar for Ruwan SUBASINGHE


Legal Director, The International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF)
Ruwan Subasinghe is Legal Director at the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF), a global trade union body representing over 18.5 million workers in 147 countries. He specialises in labour, human rights, and international law. Ruwan represents the ITF at external bodies... Read More →

Monday November 26, 2018 4:40pm - 6:00pm CET