Australia: Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights recommends national action plan on business & human rights and increased climate action

During its periodic review of Australia, the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights expressed concern about the lack of a regulatory framework to ensure that Australian companies respect economic, social, and cultural rights, both at home and abroad. Recommendations include developing a national action plan on business and human rights, reinforcing mechanisms to investigate complaints filed against private companies, and taking measures to ensure access to justice for victims. The Committee also expressed concern regarding the State party's continued increase of CO2 emissions and support to new coal mines and coal-fired power stations. The Committee recommended that Australia "revise its climate change and energy policies" and pursue alternative and renewable energy sources, as well as more effectively address the impact of climate change on indigenous peoples, including through more meaninful consultation and engagement in policy design and implementation. 

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Article
23 June 2017

Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights' concluding observations on the fifth periodic report of Australia

Author: Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

The Committee notes the information provided by the delegation on the ongoing national consultation on the implementation of the 2011 Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. The Committee is however concerned about the lack of a regulatory framework to ensure that companies operating in the State party, as well as companies under the State party's jurisdiction acting abroad, fully respect economic, social and cultural rights. The Committee is further concerned that private companies, such as the service providers in the regional processing centres in Nauru and Papua New Guinea, are responsible for serious human rights violations, and about the lack of proper and independent investigation and complaints mechanisms...The Committee recommends that the State party: establish a clear regulatory framework for companies operating in the State party... by developing a national action plan on business and human rights; ensure legal liability of companies...regarding violations of economic, social and cultural rights by their activities conducted abroad, or resulting from the activities of their subsidiaries or business partners where these companies have failed to exercise due diligence;...ensure that private companies comply with their human rights obligations; [and]...reinforce effective mechanisms to investigate complaints filed against private companies and take effective measures to ensure access to justice for victims.

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Article
1 April 2017

The Global Intiative for Economic, Social & Cultural Rights submits parallel report to the ESCR Committee for the periodic review of Australia

Author: The Global Initiative for Economic, Social and Cultural rights

"Parallel Report submitted by the Global Initiative for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (GI-ESCR) to the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights on the occasion of the consideration of the Fifth Periodic Report of Australia during the Committee’s 61st Session", April 2017

Australia's decisions, actions and omission are contributing to climate change and its human rights impacts. According to Greenpeace, Australia is “the world’s largest coal exporter [and] will export a billion tonnes of carbon dioxide in its coal this year [2016], erasing the few benefits of meeting its weak Paris target and worsening its contribution to global climate change.”...Australia is violating its obligation to protect Covenant rights by failing to ensure that private actors don’t exacerbate climate change. One example is that of Australian banks, which reportedly invested $7 billion more in fossil fuels than in renewable energy sources in 2016 despite pledging during the Paris Climate Agreement negotiations to help Australia transition to a low carbon economy...In order to meet its obligations under the Covenant, Australia should urgently strive to meet the overarching Paris Climate Agreement commitment of limiting warming to no mare than 2C. To accomplish this, more than ninety per cent of Australia’s coal reserves must be left in the ground...Australia’s climate change impact affects both those under Australia’s national and territorial jurisdiction, but also has extra-territorial affects that violate its extra-territorial obligations under the Covenant...The State Party has obligations to prioritize Covenant rights in decisions, actions and omission in order to prevent contributing to climate change and it is clear what steps should be deliberately taken to meet those obligations...

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