News & Views

Australian Government confirms national consultations on business and human rights

The Australian Government has confirmed its intention to conduct national consultations on business and human rights during 2016.

In the Australian Government’s official response to its Universal Periodic Review on human rights, now made available publicly, the Government has stated that it “will undertake a national consultation on the implementation of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights during 2016.”

The GCNA is organising business roundtables in late May to feed into this process, in collaboration with DFAT. Details will be announced shortly.

As the GCNA has reported, there is growing global momentum around National Action Plans (NAPs) for the implementation of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs). To date, ten countries have launched NAPs (including the UK), and 26 others are in the process of developing one (including the US), and there has been growing pressure on the Australian Government – including from other governments (including through the UPR process), NGOs and the broader international community – to do the same.

Traditionally NAPs provide a way for governments to set out their expectations of business in relation to respecting human rights at home and abroad, provide clarity on the role of different government actors in supporting business and other stakeholders and as the name suggests, set out a plan for further actions which may help the government to fill any current implementation gaps regarding the UNGPs. This may include further discussions around regulatory measures.

The Australian Government’s consultations will discuss the potential of an Australian NAP or similar.

Informed and meaningful business participation will be critical for the consultations. To that end and as noted above, the GCNA is convening, in collaboration with DFAT, business roundtables in late May to build Australian business’ understanding of NAP and provide an opportunity for input into the Government’s process. The GCNA is also collaborating with other stakeholder groups around the consultation process.

The GCNA is also shortly launching its Business and Human Rights ‘101’ Introductory Webinar Series, which will provide an introduction to the UNGPs – the authoritative global reference point on business and human rights. The webinar series will provide a good foundation and/or refresher for businesses ahead of the business roundtables.

Please contact us with any queries you may have.