The National Plan on Business and Human Rights was launched in November 2017 on foot of the Government's commitment to give effect to the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. The principal objective of the Plan is to promote responsible business practice at home and overseas by all Irish business enterprises. Ireland is now one of only 22 countries worldwide that have adopted national action plans on Business and Human Rights.
A key action identified was the establishment of the Business and Human Rights Implementation Group to monitor delivery of the National Plan. The Implementation Group, established in December 2018, is mandated to meet at least twice per year. I was pleased to be able to participate in the inaugural meeting of the Group on 16 January 2019. The Group is chaired by Ms Breege O'Donoghue and brings together representatives of 23 organisations, from Government Departments and State Agencies, the business sector and civil society. The Implementation Group went on to hold its first working meeting on 3 April 2019 and is scheduled to meet again in October.
A second commitment of the National Plan was a comprehensive baseline assessment of the legislative and regulatory framework for business and human rights in Ireland. My Department commissioned independent consultants to carry out this research in 2018, the final report of which is available on the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s website. At its meeting in April the Implementation Group considered the findings of the baseline assessment and the establishment of three sub-groups, each tasked with prioritising and delivering key actions under the three pillars of the UN Guiding Principles, namely, the state duty to protect, corporate responsibility to respect and access to remedy.