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Committing to human rights in Australia’s corporate sector

Committing to human rights in Australia’s corporate sector

Author(s): Sally Wheeler

This paper draws on data collected from ASX 50 listed corporations. As the UNGP makes clear a visible and accessible policy commitment is the most basic form of recognition that corporations can afford to human rights under the schema it offers. The paper takes the position that this policy commitment gives corporations a chance to declare a positive relationship with human rights. The presence or not of a policy statement, and the form that the statement takes, tells us much about the relationship between the corporate sector in Australia and human rights. The data reveals a low prevalence of policy commitment across the largest publically listed corporations in Australia. The paper selects a range of variables against which to examine whether commitment occurs or not.

The most significant factor that supports policy commitment is membership of human rights engaged global Business and Industry Non-Governmental Organisations (BINGOs). We might expect a rather stronger public commitment to human rights reflecting the position apparently taken by Australian corporations on other ESG standards. However this expectation has to be set against the absence of human rights discourse as a political and cultural artefact at the domestic level.

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Centre: CCL

Research theme: Human Rights Law and Policy

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