Submission to national plan on business and human rights by Dóchas

Dóchas, the Association of Irish Non-Governmental Development Organisations, highlights issues of poverty and inequality in its submission to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade on the proposed national action plan on business and human rights. The submission begins with an important quote from Mary Robinson:

Business can play an important role in contributing to development and the delivery of global public goods – if it respects human rights. This also means an important role for government in seeing to it that the right incentives and disincentives to respect human rights are in place to steer business practice, including through shaping public-private partnerships that are rights-respecting, rights-promoting and place clear emphasis on accountability.

Dóchas notes Ireland’s role as a co-facilitator of the United Nations negotiations on the post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals – together with the right approach to the national plan on business and human rights, Ireland could become “a world leader on human rights not only in the diplomatic realm, but also in the way we do business”.

The following key recommendations are made in the Dóchas submission:

  • The national action plan should be based on a comprehensive analysis of domestic law
  • Irish companies should report annually on their compliance with the United Nations Guiding Principles on business and human rights
  • The Irish Government must ensure policy coherence across relevant Departments and agencies (and ensure that the policies of any one Department do not undermine foreign policy objectives)
  • Ultimate oversight and responsibility for the national action plan should rest with the Department of the Taoiseach
  • The Government should set up a multi-shakeholder working group comprising representatives from business, civil society and government to monitor implementation and review of the national action plan and compliance by business
  • The Plan should set out specific actions and targets, a timeframe for delivery, and a process for review and evaluation

Dóchas sees an important role for the continued promotion of the United Nations Guiding Principles, as well as training for all actors involved. In particular, it is suggested that business and human rights should become part of third level business education. It might be added that diplomatic staff, as well as civil servants in relevant Departments and agencies, could also benefit from such training.

The full submission by Dóchas is available here.

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