The establishment of the Business and Human Rights Implementation Group was a key commitment of the National Plan on Business and Human Rights 2017-2020. The Plan, which was launched in November 2017, gives effect to the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and sets out a range of actions to progress the business and human rights agenda.
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 Implementation Group went on to hold its first working meeting on 3 April 2019 and is scheduled to meet again in October.
I am very grateful to have secured the agreement of Ms Breege O’Donoghue, formerly Primark’s Group Director of New Markets and Business Development, to chair the Implementation Group. The Group which monitors the delivery of the actions identified in the Plan brings together representatives of the following 23 organisations:
- Amnesty International Ireland
- National Women's Council of Ireland
- Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission
- Irish Congress of Trade Unions
- University College Cork
- University College Dublin
- Trinity College Dublin
- National University of Ireland, Galway
- University of Limerick
- Chambers Ireland
- Enterprise Ireland
- Business in the Community Ireland
- IDA Ireland
- Irish Exporters Association
- Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation
- Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment
- Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection
- Department of Finance
- Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
- Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government
- Department of Justice and Equality
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. The composition and chair of these sub-groups has been considered by the Implementation Group and it is expected that the sub-groups will be constituted and will meet before the next plenary meeting of the Group in October.