ALHR congratulates the Australian Government on its commitment to a national consultation on Business and Human Rights in 2016

March 12, 2016

The Australian Government has formally indicated that it will undertake a national consultation on the implementation of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights during 2016.

Australian Lawyers for Human Rights (ALHR) welcomes the Government’s announcement and acknowledges that this represents a significant step towards implementing internationally-accepted business and human rights standards in Australia. The announcement comes as part of the Australian Government’s response, this week, to its Universal Periodic Review which was held at the UN Human Rights Council, Geneva, last November.

Chair of ALHR’s Business and Human Rights Group, Amy Sinclair, said: “We are encouraged by the Government’s commitment to undertake consultations. This indicates a willingness by the Government to engage seriously on business and human rights.”

The Government’s next steps will be critical in determining the success of the process. Ms Sinclair noted that, “to achieve an effective result, these consultations must be properly constituted. The voices of all stakeholders must be included – not just those representing powerful business interests, but also vulnerable and disempowered members of society.”

Last month ALHR submitted a Policy Paper calling on the Government to commence an inclusive, multi-stakeholder consultation process as the first step towards developing an Australian National Action Plan to implement the UN Guiding Principles. These principles are directed at both States and companies and provide a global standard for preventing and addressing the negative effects of business on human rights. National Action Plans are statements of policy commonly used by governments to translate the UN Guiding Principles into practice. Nearly forty such National Action Plans are currently either launched, or underway, in countries around the world.

The Government’s move to hold consultations to progress implementation of the UN Guiding Principles is an important step. It provides an opportunity for Australia to strengthen its business and human rights framework and, in so doing, join the ranks of those countries in the global community already making strides towards enhancing corporate responsibility.

“It is hoped that a clear intention to develop a National Action Plan for Australia will emerge from these consultations” concluded Ms Sinclair.

Media Contact: Amy Sinclair, Chair Business and Human Rights Sub-Committee, ALHR
M: 0405 317 023 E:

Australian Lawyers for Human Rights (ALHR) was established in 1993 and is a national network of over 2600 Australian solicitors, barristers, academics, judicial officers and law students who practise and promote international human rights law in Australia. ALHR has active and engaged National, State and Territory committees and a secretariat at La Trobe University Law School in Melbourne. Through advocacy, media engagement, education, networking, research and training, ALHR promotes, practices and protects universally accepted standards of human rights throughout Australia and overseas.