Committing to Human Rights in Australia's Corporate Sector

39 Pages Posted: 12 Jul 2019

See all articles by Sally Wheeler

Sally Wheeler

Australian National University (ANU)

Date Written: July 12, 2019


This paper draws on data collected from the ASX 50 with a focus on policy commitment to human rights. As the UNGP makes clear a visible and accessible policy commitment is the most basic form of recognition that corporations should afford to human rights. The paper takes the position that this policy commitment offers corporations a chance to declare a positive relationship with human rights. Therefore the presence or not of a policy statement, and the form that the statement takes, tells us much about the relationship between the corporate sector and human rights. The data reveals that there is generally a low compliance with the policy commitment requirement. The most significant factor amongst a range of variables examined for predicting whether compliance will occur or not is membership of human rights engaged Business and Industry Non-Governmental Organisations (BINGOs). We might expect a rather stronger public commitment to human rights reflecting the position taken by Australian corporations on other ESG standards. The paper suggests that the absence of human rights discourse as a political and cultural artifact at the domestic nation state level is a possible explanation for this.

Keywords: Corporations; Corporate Governance, Human Rights, United Nations Guiding Principles

Suggested Citation

Wheeler, Sally, Committing to Human Rights in Australia's Corporate Sector (July 12, 2019). ANU College of Law Research Paper No. 19.13, July 2019, Available at SSRN: or

Sally Wheeler (Contact Author)

Australian National University (ANU) ( email )

Canberra, Australian Capital Territory 2601

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