In February, Business in the Community Ireland attended a workshop on business and human rights organised by Chambers Ireland and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
The event was a focussed consultation on how to give effect to the prescription in the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights that business has a responsibility to respect human rights. The consultation formed part of the Department’s consultation on the National Plan on Business and Human Rights which is currently timetabled for release in the summer of 2015. The UK, Denmark, Netherlands, Spain and Finland already have national plans.
Speakers at the event included BITCI members Smurfit Kappa Ireland, represented by Jim Fitzharris Assistant Group Secretary at Smurfit Kappa Ireland and Leslee O’ Loughlin, Group HR Manager, Enterprise-Rent-a-Car.
There is a clear rationale for business to respect human rights, including the enhancement and protection of reputation, operational continuity and responding to investor interest. A recurring theme throughout the discussion was the need for organisations to conduct due diligence on their respect for human rights within their own business dealings and those of organisations within their sphere of influence, including their supply chain. That should also be followed up by remedial action.
Smurfit Kappa Ireland outlined how they extensively review their operations for respect for human rights in labour practices and land acquisition activities among others and which is described in their externally audited sustainable development report (see http://www.smurfitkappa.com/vhome/ie/Sustainability/Pages/Default.aspx).
Enterprise-Rent-a-Car discussed the importance of harnessing core business activity for development impact.
BITCI has made a written submission to the Department for its consultation on the National Plan on Business and Human Rights which closed on March 1st.
The UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights can be found here: http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Publications/GuidingPrinciplesBusinessHR_EN.pdf
An organisation’s respect for human rights, including an emphasis on supply chain assessment, is addressed in the Business Working Responsibly Mark certification for responsible and sustainable business. The Mark is based on ISO 26000.
Please click here to read BITCI submission to the Department for its consultation on the National Plan on Business and Human Rights.
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