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Law Council of Australia


Position Paper - Business and Human Rights and the Australian Legal Profession

4 February 2016

Business and human rights is emerging as an issue of strong interest for the international community and for Australia. The concept of ‘business and human rights’ is articulated in the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (the Guiding Principles).

These principles outline both the state’s duty to protect against human rights abuses by third parties, including business and the corporate responsibility to respect human rights (for more details on what are human rights see Annexure A).

The principles also set out a framework for ensuring greater access by victims to effective judicial and non-judicial remedies. There is a critical need for industry bodies in Australia to take a leadership role in raising awareness of and encouraging compliance with the Guiding Principles. This opportunity is underscored by developments at the international level, which may result in aspects of the Guiding Principles becoming binding international law.

This background paper summarises the development of the Guiding Principles as well as international and national efforts to implement the Guiding Principles across business sectors, including the legal profession. The background paper also outlines the benefits of compliance with the Guiding Principles for Australian businesses, including law firms.


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