Business and 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. 


Examples of HRLC's business and human rights activities:

Rights groups warn investors of the risks of Ferrovial’s bid for Australia’s offshore detention contractor

Spanish giant Ferrovial has been warned in a new investor alert that it will be exposed to serious legal, financial and reputation risks associated with the Australian offshore detention centres, if its takeover bid for Broadspectrum is successful.

“Ferrovial and the financial community it operates in need to be quite clear that this is an operation with profound risks and a lack of ongoing contract certainty,” said Rachel Ball, Director of Advocacy at the Human Rights Law Centre.

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Complaint of serious human rights abuses lodged against G4S, Australia’s former security contractor on Manus

A formal OECD complaint has been lodged against multinational security contractor G4S for failing to meet international standards and committing serious human rights violations in relation to conditions and abuse of asylum seekers detained at the Manus Regional Processing Centre.

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Business and human rights in international development

In a submission to the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade’s inquiry into the role of the private sector in promoting economic growth and reducing poverty in the Indo-Pacific region, the Human Rights Law Centre has called for the Government to ensure that aid projects that involve partnering with the private sector do not result in human rights violations.

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National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights for Australia – Briefing paper

Australia is well-placed to play a lead role in the implementation of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. However, while the Australian Government co-sponsored the UN Human Rights Council resolution endorsing the Guiding Principles, it has not yet formally incorporated them into national law and policy. The primary way in which governments around the world are driving and guiding implementation is through the development of National Action Plans on the implementation of the Guiding Principles (NAPs). The HRLC has produced a briefing paper provides background on the Guiding Principles and outlines the case for the development of an Australian NAP.

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