In May this year, the Commission co-hosted a roundtable with the Human Rights Law Centre on implementing the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (the Guiding Principles) in Australia. The roundtable involved key civil society organisations, academics and legal bodies with interest and expertise in the area of business and human rights and was supported by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
Proposed by the UN Special Representative on business & human rights Professor John Ruggie and endorsed by the UN Human Rights Council in June 2011, the Guiding Principles provide a global standard for preventing and addressing the risk of adverse human impacts linked to business activity.
In order to implement the Guiding Principles countries are encouraged to develop National Action Plans. To date, ten such Plans have been completed with a further 27 underway across the world.
In March, the Australian Government announced its intention to undertake a national consultation on implementing the Guiding Principles in Australia.
The Commission/Human Rights Law Centre roundtable was held to inform the consultation process.
The outcomes document from the roundtable, Implementing the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights in Australia: Joint Civil Society Statement has now been submitted to the Australian Government.
The Statement sets out civil society’s priority recommendations to the Australian Government on implementing the Guiding Principles. These include:
- establishing an advisory group to inform the consultation process which includes representatives of business and industry, non-government organisations, trade unions, academia and the Commission (as Australia’s national human rights institution);
- conducting a thorough national assessment process, which includes analysis of gaps in Australia’s human rights framework, and
- developing a National Action Plan that contains specific and actionable commitments.
The Commission looks forward to continuing to work with the Australian Government, business and civil society towards implementing the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights in Australia.