NUIG Report on Human Rights and Business
4 May 2012
THE GOVERNMENT should require human rights compliance by business for public procurement contracts, state investment and listings on the Irish Stock Exchange, according to the Irish Centre for Human Rights. A report by the NUI Galway Centre for Human Rights makes a number of useful recommendations, including:
- the need for a policy response to the endorsement by the Human Rights Council of the United Nations Framework and Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights;
- the need for 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;
- a need to 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. (More on Guidelines here)
Curiously, the report omits any reference to the fact that Ireland is failing to secure proper observance of human rights as recognised in the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, specifically Article 23.4 The right to join trade unions and the right to collective bargaining: Everyone has the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests - and Article 8. The right to effective remedies - Everyone has the right to an effective remedy by the competent national tribunals for acts violating the fundamental rights granted him by the constitution or by law. Ireland has been the subject of unfavourable comment on its human rights record in respect of trade union rights. In 2002, the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in their concluding observations found that Ireland needed to put in place a legal framework to 'adequately protect in law and practice trade unions' rights to conduct collective bargaining'. Ireland's failure to do so was the subject of criticism at the UN's Human Rights Council last October. Congress concerns were underscored by Norway in their presentation at the 'interactive dialogue' session at the Human Rights Council on the 3-14th October 2011. Norway made observations on the type of anti-union discrimination that goes unpunished and the lack of recognition for the right to collective bargaining. In their recommendations they urged Ireland to take action on its commitment set out in the programme for Government to introduce legislation that would address the human-trade union rights deficits by protecting freedom of association and securing respect for the right to join trade unions, to organise and a right to collective bargaining through a trade union (para 63 Draft Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review A/HRC/WG.6/12/L.7.) Speaking to a special session of the United Nations' Human Rights' Council in Geneva, Ireland's ambassador to the UN - Gerard Corr - confirmed that a commitment on collective bargaining rights in the Programme for Government will be honoured and Irish law made "consistent with recent judgements of the European Court of Human Rights. Congress welcomed this confirmation from Government at the UPR session in March and urged that work begin on the issue "without further delay.