Implementing the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights in Australia

In 2011, the Australian Government co-sponsored the UN Human Rights Council resolution which unanimously endorsed the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. These Principles seek to provide guidance on implementing and operationalising the state duty to protect people from human rights violations by business, the business duty to respect human rights in their activities, and the obligation to ensure that victims of human rights violations by business have access to effective remedies. The upcoming inaugural Forum on Business and Human Rights in Geneva, Switzerland, provides an opportunity to galvanise the international community and further promote the business and human rights agenda.

Given our heightened profile as an incoming non-permanent member of the UN Security Council, Australia is well placed to play a lead role in the effective implementation of the Guiding Principles by supporting the Guiding Principles in international fora and setting the global benchmark in domestic implementation.

The Australian Government should lead by example and use the Forum as a platform to outline its business and human rights agenda. The HRLC’s submission to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade sets out several recommendations for action to secure the effective domestic implementation of the Guiding Principles.