I was pleased to launch the National Plan on Business and Human Rights (2017-2020) 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 principle objective of the Plan is to promote responsible business practice at home and overseas by all Irish business enterprises. Ireland is one of only 21 countries worldwide that have adopted national action plans on Business and Human Rights.
The establishment of the Business and Human Rights Implementation Group was a key commitment 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 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. The composition and chair of these sub-groups has been considered by the Implementation Group and the establishment of the groups and the appointment of the chairs is a priority for my Department. It is anticipated that the sub-groups will be constituted and will begin work before the next plenary meeting of the Group in October 2019.