Redress for Transnational Business-Related Human Rights Abuses in Australia

Non-Judicial Redress Mechanisms Report Series 3

74 Pages Posted: 2 Dec 2016

Date Written: 2016


Around the world peoples’ lives are affected by the actions of businesses. In addition to positive impacts on livelihoods, ideas or technologies, business activities are also sometimes associated with significant human rights abuses – for example through land dispossession and forced resettlement, exploitation of workers, environmental damage or harm to peoples’ health. Access to a remedy for these abuses is frequently impeded by failures of domestic legal systems, limited options in terms of redress mechanisms, significant structural imbalances of power between corporations and local communities, and distance of various types including – geographic, cultural, bureaucratic, political and economic – from decision-makers and established redress mechanisms.

This report contributes to ongoing debates about how Australia can best fulfil its obligations to enable people affected by the human rights failures of Australian companies abroad to seek access to a remedy. There will be a particular focus on the distinctive role of non-judicial redress systems. The report asks the following questions:

• What effects do transnational non-judicial mechanisms have? • Under what conditions do they contribute to human rights remedy? • And how can the design and operation of non-judicial redress mechanisms be improved?

Analysis of these questions draws on empirical research carried out over a period of three years into communities and workers pursuing a remedy due to grievances in the garment and footwear, mining, industrial, and agribusiness sectors in India and Indonesia. In the case studies we examined, workers and communities sought justice through using a variety of strategies including organized protests, transnational campaigning, litigation, negotiation, and making complaints to non-judicial mechanisms at the national and transnational level. This research paints a rich picture of the complexity, difficulty, and often limited success, of communities and workers seeking remedy or justice for human rights abuses through non-judicial as well as formal redress channels, leading to a number of key findings.

Keywords: Business and Human Rights, Corporate Accountablity

JEL Classification: H7, F60, F66, K20

Suggested Citation

Macdonald, Kate and Marshall, Shelley D. and Miller-Dawkins, May and Zornada, Kristen, Redress for Transnational Business-Related Human Rights Abuses in Australia (2016). Non-Judicial Redress Mechanisms Report Series 3, Available at SSRN:

Kate Macdonald

University of Melbourne ( email )

185 Pelham Street
Carlton, Victoria 3053

Shelley D. Marshall (Contact Author)

RMIT University ( email )

Melbourne Campus
Building 13
Melbourne, Victoria 3000
+613 99251382 (Phone)


May Miller-Dawkins


Kristen Zornada

Independent ( email )

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