"This is one of the most important stories of it's kind in Europe."
A new report published by NUI Galway has called on the Government to ensure that companies respect human rights, and provide guidance to companies on best practice, including when operating overseas.
The report ‘Business and Human Rights in Ireland’, issued by the Irish Centre for Human Rights at NUI Galway, also states that adherence to protecting rights should be underpinned by legislation.
The report was launched on Tuesday evening by Professor Michael O’Flaherty, who is a member of the United Nations Human Rights Committee and Chief Commissioner of the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission.
The report also urges the Government to issue a policy response to the UN Framework and Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, which was adopted in 2011.
The report examines instances of business infracting on human rights in Ireland, for example, the treatment of GAMA construction workers, the Corrib Gas dispute and technology companies implicated in Syrian censorship.
The report also criticises multinational companies headquartered in Ireland, such as Apple, who have been censured for their human rights record.
“State representatives frequently assert Ireland’s commitment to the United Nations and human rights, although the Government has yet to issue a comprehensive policy document on business and human rights,” said Dr Shane Darcy of NUI Galway’s Irish Centre for Human Rights.
The report also asserts that legislation should extend beyond Ireland’s borders for companies operating overseas.
“The concept of extraterritorial jurisdiction as a means of ensuring the State protects against human rights violations by business when acting outside of its territory is particularly relevant in the context of a globalised economy and the trans-national nature of many business activities.” said Dr Darcy.
The report also recommends that there be a requirement for human rights reporting and compliance for companies listing on the Irish Stock Exchange, or tendering for state contracts or investment.