ALHR endorses Joint Civil Society Statement on Business and Human Rights

August 15, 2016

A coalition of leading civil society groups, including Australian Lawyers for Human Rights (ALHR), has released a Joint Statement recommending actions for the Australian Government to implement the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.

The Guiding Principles were unanimously endorsed by the UN Human Rights Council in 2011 and represent the global standard for preventing and addressing the negative impacts of business on human rights. They require businesses to respect human rights and governments to protect individuals from business-related human right abuses.

The Joint Statement calls on the Government to commit to a National Action Plan to implement the Guiding Principles in Australia. It recommends a comprehensive process of inquiry to examine existing gaps in Australia’s business-related human rights framework and a transparent, participatory process towards a National Action Plan to address those gaps.

Amy Sinclair, Chair of ALHR’s Business and Human Rights Group, said ALHR fully supports the Joint Statement. “It provides comprehensive guidance drawn from a diverse range of Australian NGOs, academics and other experts and lays important groundwork for Australia’s implementation of the Guiding Principles” she said.

Ms Sinclair noted that Australia has been slow to engage with the Guiding Principles and urgently needs to commence a robust and consultative process for developing an effective National Action Plan that involves a range of stakeholders. “This process is key to achieving greater corporate responsibility and respect for human rights by Australian businesses” she said.

“ALHR looks forward to progressing these critical issues at public consultations later this year. The Joint Statement represents a valuable contribution to the agenda for these consultations, after which ALHR hopes the Australian Government will move swiftly and decisively towards initiating a plan to implement the Guiding Principles” said Ms Sinclair.