In April 2012, the Irish Centre for Human Rights produced a report titled Business and Human Rights Ireland: Context, International Standards and Recommendations. In advance of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade NGO Forum on Human Rights, with its focus this year on business and human rights, it is worth highlighting the recommendations made in that report, given that most, if not all, remain of relevance:
1. The Government of Ireland should issue a policy response to the endorsement by the Human Rights Council of the United Nations Framework and Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. This response should also address the European Commission’s call for EU Member States to develop national plans for the implementation of the Guiding Principles by 2012.
2. The Government of Ireland should report on its compliance with the State duty to protect human rights in the context of business in its submissions to the United Nations treaty monitoring bodies and the Human Rights Council under the Universal Periodic Review.
3. The Government of Ireland should undertake a review of existing legislation in light of relevant international standards concerning business and human rights, and consider legislative reform in relevant areas, such as civil and criminal liability, in order to enhance accountability for human rights violations when committed by business entities.
4. The Government of Ireland should provide guidance to business entities on the requirements of human rights due diligence, including when operating overseas, and ensure that the exercise of due diligence is a mandatory requirement underpinned by legislation.
5. The Government of Ireland should invite the United Nations Human Rights Council Working Group on the issue of human rights and transnational corporations and other business entities to conduct a country visit in Ireland, as provided for in its mandate.
6. The Government of Ireland should ensure that the Irish National Contact Point established pursuant to the OECD Guidelines on Multinational Enterprises has sufficient resources and expertise in human rights to fulfil its mandate and that consideration is given to granting independence to this NCP.
7. The Government of Ireland should require human rights compliance and reporting by business to be an eligibility criterion for public procurement contracts or State investment.
8. The Government of Ireland should consider making corporate reporting and compliance with human rights as mandatory requirements for listing on the Irish Stock Exchange.
9. The Irish Human Rights Commission and relevant Non-Governmental Organisations are invited to address further issues of business and human rights, including in shadow reports prepared for the United Nations treaty monitoring bodies and the Universal Periodic Review.
10. Business enterprises domiciled in Ireland should make a policy commitment to respect human rights, incorporate human rights due diligence in their operations, make compliance with human rights a contractual requirement for suppliers and provide remediation in the event of human rights breaches.
11. Enterprise, business and employer organisations, such as Enterprise Ireland, IDA Ireland, the Irish Business and Employers Confederation, the Irish Small and Medium Size Enterprises Association, the Irish Exporters Association and Chambers Ireland, should make a policy commitment to human rights as set out in the UN Framework and Guiding Principles.
12. The Law Reform Commission is invited to consider areas of legal reform needed in Ireland in light of development relating to business and human rights, drawing on international human rights standards and the UN Framework and Guiding Principles.