The principles, unanimously endorsed by the UN Human Rights Council in 2011, require businesses to respect human rights and governments to protect individuals from business-related human rights abuses.
Amy Sinclair (pictured), chair of Australian Lawyers for Human Rights’s business and human rights group, said Australia has been slow to engage with the UN principles.
According to Ms Sinclair, the Australian government urgently needs to commence a robust and consultative process for developing an effective national action plan to implement the Guiding Principles.
“This process is key to achieving greater corporate responsibility and respect for human rights by Australian businesses,” she said.
The joint statement “provides comprehensive guidance drawn from a diverse range of Australian NGOs, academics and other experts and lays important groundwork for Australia’s implementation of the Guiding Principles”, she added.
The statement recommends a comprehensive process of inquiry to examine existing gaps in Australia's business-related human rights framework and a transparent, participatory process towards a national action plan to address those gaps.
Public consultations will be held later in the year to advance the issue.
“The Joint Statement represents a valuable contribution to the agenda for these consultations, after which ALHR hopes the Australian Government will move swiftly and decisively towards initiating a plan to implement the Guiding Principles,” Ms Sinclair said.