ALHR urges major reforms to Australia’s primary complaints body for dealing with corporate human rights abuses
In June 2017 the Federal Government commissioned an Independent Review of Australia’s primary complaints body for dealing with corporate human rights abuses, the OECD Australian National Contact Point (ANCP). Australian Lawyers for Human Rights (ALHR) welcomes the Final Report of the Independent Review published in December 2017.
The ANCP, currently housed in The Treasury, was established in 2001 by the Government under the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises (the Guidelines).
Lauren Zanetti, Co-Chair of ALHR’s Business and Human Rights Subcommittee said, “The Final Report reflects many of ALHR’s concerns. It recommends major reforms to the ANCP, which would bring its practices in line with better performing OECD National Contact Points overseas.”
In July 2017, ALHR’s Business and Human Rights Subcommittee provided a Submission to the Independent Review arguing that the ANCP currently lacks transparency and independence, and is generally ineffective.
The Independent Reviewer’s Final Report recommends that the ANCP should:
- be restructured to increase its independence;
- be better resourced;
- publish procedures setting out a transparent process for handling complaints;
- be empowered to make a determination regarding whether a company has breached the Guidelines, where mediation between the parties fails;
- set out material consequences for companies that are found to have breached the Guidelines; and
- increase stakeholder engagement and promotion of the ANCP.
ALHR urges the Government to demonstrate its commitment to addressing corporate human rights abuses by implementing the Final Report’s recommendations.
“Australia has endorsed the 2011 United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. The Guiding Principles ask the Government to ensure that victims of corporate human rights abuses have access to justice through effective non-judicial grievance mechanisms. A significantly reformed ANCP has the potential to be such a mechanism,” Ms Zanetti said.
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