Australia: Civil society urges govt. to develop Natl. Action Plan on business & human rights

According to civil society actors, the current situation shows that Australian corporations are involved in human rights abuses and the government should take practical steps to implement the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs) at domestic level.  More than 20 NGOs and other organizations have contributed to a civil society statement that includes key recommendations to the Australian Government on implementing the UNGPs while acknowledging challenges it may face.


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12 September 2016

Australia: Civil society provides recommendations to govt. on how to implement UN Guiding Principles

Author: Amy Sinclair (on behalf of the Australian Human Rights Commission)

"Implementing the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights in Australia: Joint Civil Society Statement," Aug 2016

On 25 May 2016, the Australian Human Rights Commission…hosted a roundtable meeting for civil society representatives…(the CSO Roundtable). This Joint Civil Society Statement…reflects the key outcomes of the CSO Roundtable.

The key question underpinning this Statement is: how are the UNGPs to be operationalised in Australia? This Statement sets out civil society’s initial recommendations to the Australian Government on the implementation of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs) in Australia…

Civil society’s key recommendations for the Australian Government are:

  • …multi-stakeholder advisory group
  • conduct a thorough, consultative and efficient national baseline assessment;
  • develop a national action plan on business and human rights (NAP)…
  • meet criteria for the NAP development process
  • meet criteria for NAP content
  • lead by example, particularly in public procurement
  • develop clear guidance for business on how to respect human rights in accordance with the UNGPs…
  • develop…mechanisms that provide access to remedy
  • strengthen the Australian OECD National Contact Point
  • commit adequate resources to implementing the UNGPs…

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12 September 2016

Australian Lawyers for Human Rights' policy paper on business & human rights National Action Plan

Author: Australian Lawyers for Human Rights

"Policy Paper on an Australian National Action Plan (NAP) to implement the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs)," 16 Feb 2016

ALHR calls on the Australian Government to make a formal commitment to develop a NAP to implement the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs) in Australia.

The development of a NAP is essential for improving the legal, regulatory and policy framework in Australia required to successfully implement the UNGPs. This will assist in protecting and promoting internationally-recognised human rights standards in Australia. In developing a NAP for Australia, an effective process is key to ensuring a successful outcome.

ALHR’s expectations for the NAP process include:

  • a consultative, multi-stakeholder process that includes civil society;
  • transparency;
  • an evidence-based process: NAP development to include a national baseline assessment of existing legislative gaps in UNGP implementation in Australia; and
  • provision for ongoing monitoring and review of the NAP

ALHR’s expectations for the content of a NAP include:

  • comprehensive nature: NAP must cover all the UNGPs;
  • extends beyond a statement of current policy or commitments and contains forward-looking action points; and
  • a human-rights based focus…

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17 August 2016

"On corporate human rights, Australia's actions speak louder than words"

Author: Amy Sinclair, Australian Lawyers for Human Rights, on Guardian (UK)

Leading civil society and business groups have independently released key reports on Australia’s compliance with international corporate human rights standards this month...[T]he Australian Human Rights Commission and Global Compact Network Australia point to the importance of a National Action Plan (NAP) for implementing these standards in Australia and clarifying the human rights responsibilities of business. A meaningful response from the government is essential if we are to break the cycle of corporate scandals that continue to afflict Australia. Ripcurl, BHP Billiton, Broadspectrum...and Wilson Security have all grabbed headlines recently – for all the wrong reasons. Whether it’s disgraceful labour practices, disregard for local communities or dealings with offshore detention centres, Australian businesses continue to be implicated in severe abuses that contravene international human rights law...Despite co-sponsoring the original UN Human Rights Council resolution, in reality the Australian government has been slow to engage. It has yet to take steps integrating the principles into national law and policy...

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