Business & Human Rights
Business can have a significant impact on the human rights of people in countries where they operate, particularly where those countries have weak regulatory and governance systems. Where Australian businesses are responsible for human rights abuses, it is vital that they are held accountable and that victims are able to access a remedy.
The Human Rights Law Centre works to ensure that Australian businesses are held accountable for the human rights impacts of their overseas operations. We also advocate for the Australian Government to protect against corporate human rights abuses.
On the eve of the fifth anniversary of the tragic Rana Plaza factory collapse, twelve prominent Australian organisations have united to call on Australian brands that are lagging behind the rest of the industry to sign the 2018 Bangladesh Fire and Safety Accord, developed in the wake of the building collapse that claimed the lives of more than 1100 workers in Bangladesh on 24 April 2013.
As the United Nations debates Eritrea’s troubled human rights record, an Australian mining company has taken the extraordinary step of appearing with the Eritrean regime to help it defend its actions.
Australian companies need to be held to account for human rights abuses they commit overseas, but Australia’s complaints system is woefully inadequate and in desperate need of reform.
The Department of Immigration revealed in Senate Estimates today that Australian engineering firm Canstruct was the only firm approached to tender for the contract to run Australia’s immigration detention centre on Nauru.
Australian engineering firm Canstruct will be complicit in serious human rights abuses if it takes over the contract to run the Australia’s immigration detention centre on Nauru. A leaked memo from Canstruct’s CEO overnight, shows the company will take over the contract to run the Nauru centre by the end of the month, and will be paid $8 million by the Australian Government.
Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has come under strong criticism from members of an advisory group that the Minister established just this year. Members of the Multi-Stakeholder Advisory Group on the Implementation of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights were disappointed that their recommendations have been dismissed outright by the Foreign Minister.
“I've met kids in Cambodia who had been compelled to work 14-hour days on plantations in blistering heat to supply produce that ends up on Western supermarket shelves. We clearly need a better system of regulation here to ensure that Australian companies are not turning a blind eye to these sorts of practices,” said Keren Adams.
The African Commission on Human and People's Rights has urged the Government of the Democratic Republic of Congo to re-open the criminal investigation into the role an Australian company, Anvil Mining, played in a massacre of 70 people in 2004.
Australia should introduce strong laws to tackle modern slavery in the global supply chains of Australian businesses, the Human Rights Law Centre today told a parliamentary inquiry hearing.
Australia’s key complaints body for corporate human rights abuses is failing and in need of a major overhaul, the Human Rights Law Centre has told an independent review.
Rana Plaza is often described as the garment industry’s “worst industrial accident”, but the industry practices that led to it were far from accidental writes Keren Adams.
If you are reading this on your computer, phone or tablet, chances are it was made in China by a worker like 18-year-old Xiao Ya.
Xiao left her home town in rural China to find work to help support her ageing parents. She got a job cleaning tablet screens in Guangzhou, in one of the big factories which produce 90 per cent of the world's electronics.
Australia’s offshore camps are a house of cards. They’re unsustainable and liable to collapse amid increasing corporate aversion to complicity in abuse, legal uncertainty and human despair.
Every day that the Manus Island and Nauru camps stay open, people suffer. Every day that Ferrovial operates those centres, it is exposed to risk, writes the HRLC's Rachel Ball.
Of the myriad issues inadequately covered in the 2010 Federal Election campaign, the issues as to Australian values and identity, and how these values shape the way we understand our role and responsibility in the world, must figure high. In the leaders' debate, for example, the only discussion of Australian foreign policy and our place in the world arose in the context of the 'Timor Solution' and the war in Afghanistan. This is not the way things should be. With real leadership, elections present an opportunity to tap into admirable but often latent aspects of national identity, a concept explored by Canadian political scientist Alison Brysk in her new book, Global Good Samaritans: Human Rights as Foreign Policy.
Google’s recent announcement that it will not tolerate censorship of its search engine in China raises significant issues as to the relationship of business and human rights; a relationship in which regulation has not kept pace with practice or public expectations. In his landmark 2008 report the UN Special Representative on Business and Human Rights, Harvard professor John Ruggie, noted that the globalisation of business activity has not been matched by a globalisation of business regulation.
The Australian ‘reluctance about rights’ and the gap between international human rights law and Australian domestic law, policy and practice are well documented. Despite ratifying all of the major international human rights treaties, Australia has not fully implemented or incorporated their provisions into domestic law. Australia remains the only Western democracy without a legislatively or constitutionally enshrined charter of human rights.