Business and Human Rights

The Australian Government believes that business and respect for human rights go hand in hand. Businesses must comply with all Australian laws. In addition, under international law, the government is obliged to ensure that non-state actors, including businesses, respect human rights. 

The Australian Government encourages businesses to apply the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. The Guiding Principles set international standards guiding government and business practice on human rights, and encourage voluntary commitments from business. More information is available on the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights website.

Corporate responsibility to respect human rights is now well recognised and supported by businesses and governments alike.  In addition to meeting legal obligations, there are many benefits to business for respecting human rights:

  • safeguarding reputation
  • incorporating social and environmental risks into decision making
  • reducing financial burdens associated with labour disputes, security issues and stakeholder relations
  • reducing the risk of costly litigation, and
  • ensuring, as global citizens, that no unintended consequences result from business practices.

The government promotes responsible business conduct in a number of ways, including by:

The Australian Human Rights Commission also promotes responsible business conduct, including by producing guidance material for business.