Principle 1: Businesses should support and respect the protection of internationally proclaimed human rights; and
Principle 2: make sure that they are not complicit in human rights abuses.
All businesses should commit to upholding the principles of human rights.
Introducing the Human Rights Working Group for Business
Under the UN Global Compact’s first two principles, signatories to the Global Compact commit to support and respect the protection of internationally proclaimed human rights, and make sure that they are not complicit in human rights abuses. Other principles, namely those relating to labour, also concern respect for human rights.
But what are the policies and processes that businesses can and should put in place to help them meet these principles? And how do recent international and domestic developments fit into the equation?
In 2010 the Global Compact Network Australia established a Human Rights Working Group for Business to help Australian businesses answer these questions.
It is intended to provide Australian businesses with an informal forum for joint learning and best practice sharing. It is anticipated that the Working Group will meet quarterly. The meetings will operate under Chatham House rules to maximise information exchange.
At this stage, the Working Group will focus on building capacity amongst Australian businesses to manage both human rights-related challenges and opportunities. However, acknowledging the importance of multistakeholder dialogue, the Global Compact Network Australia hopes to hold an annual multistakeholder event as well to devote part of each Working Group meeting to a multistakeholder panel discussion.
The Working Group’s inaugural meeting was held in Melbourne on 10 December 2010. Key discussion themes and a media release are now available. Participants ranged from large transnational corporations to small and medium sized enterprises, spanning the telecommunications, banking, mining, retail and utilities sectors amongst others.
This portal will provide information as to the Working Group’s activities. It will also point to relevant international and domestic resources.
Cost: The GCNA is pleased to be able to offer the inaugural meeting of the Human Rights Working Group free of charge. However, as the GCNA grows, attendance may become a membership benefit with a charge for non-members. Please note that, based on member interest, the GCNA also hopes to establish working groups on the rest of the UNGC’s thematic areas in the near future: labour, environment and anti-corruption.
The Working Group’s activities are being coordinated by the Global Compact Network Australia’s board with input from participants from the Working Group. Any questions about the Working Group should be directed to the Secretariat Global Compact Network Australia: firstname.lastname@example.org
Business and Human Rights Resources
Human Rights pages from the UN Global Compact’s website
These pages include an explanation of the UN Global Compact’s two Human Rights Principles as well as a variety of tools on integrating these principles into core business policies and processes:
In particular, Human Rights Translated, (a joint publication of the UN Global Compact, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Castan Centre for Human Rights at Monash University, and the International Business Leaders’ Forum) as its name suggests, translates how core internationally recognized human rights standards may be relevant in a business context.
Australian Human Rights Commission Fact Sheets
The Australian Human Rights Commission has developed four short fact sheets setting out five basic steps towards integrating human rights into everyday business practices. There is one general fact sheet, and then individual fact sheets for the mining, retail and banking sectors.
Download the facts sheets on the Commissions website.
The UN Special Representative on Business and Human Rights
The Business and Human Rights Resource Centre launched an online portal for all materials relating to the work of the United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Representative on business & human rights, Professor John Ruggie
Visit the online portal
The Business and Human Rights Resource Centre
You can sign up here to receive weekly updates on global developments on business and human rights: http://www.business-humanrights.org/weekly_update_signup.
The website also provides a number of useful information portals, including the “Tools & Guidance” portal, featuring practical guidance by the UN Global Compact and others, organized by sector and issue: http://www.business-humanrights.org/ToolsGuidancePortal/Home.
The Danish Institute for Human Rights
The Human Rights and Business Department, the Danish Institute for Human Rights is the world’s largest business-focused team of human rights specialists, and maintains a network of more than 100 human rights organizations around the world: http://www.humanrightsbusiness.org/
Human Rights Working Group for Business
Inaugural Meeting, 10 December 2010
Many thanks to those organisations who participated in our inaugural meeting of this important Working Group.
The following suggestions for future quarterly meetings were collated:
(a) Shared learning and best practice sharing
(b) Tips on implementation
(c) Unpacking existing tools
(d) Exploring key thematic issues for Australian companies
(e) Maintaining multistakeholder dialogue
SECOND MEETING OF THE GCNA’s BUSINESS AND HUMAN RIGHTS WORKING GROUP
The Global Compact Network Australia (GCNA) has held the second meeting of its Human Rights Working Group for Business hosted by Westpac with support from the Australian Human Rights Commission, the Attorney General’s Department, The Treasury and leading businesses including Pacific Hydro, ANZ, Xstrata and Allens Arthur Robinson and was attended by over 45 participants across sectors such as banking, extractives, energy, telecommunications and major infrastructure.
Attorney-General Robert McClelland welcomed this excellent initiative: Read the media release here
“Given today’s global social expectations companies are better off innovating and striving to be ahead of the curve when it comes to managing human rights impacts in Australia and overseas, where their supply chains are. Some enlightened CEOs and companies are doing it already, ensuring market access for their products.”
Alexandra Guaqueta, Lecturer, School of International Studies, Flinders University and former Head for Social Standards at Cerrejon coal mine