The case of the Irish National Contact Point for the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises: Challenges and opportunities for the business and human rights landscape in Ireland

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Abstract

The “Zero Draft” Treaty on Business and Human Rights was published in July 2018. Similar to earlier manifestations of treaty discussions, this draft places the right of and access to remedy at the centre of negotiations. In this way, this treaty follows an analogous pathway to the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs); namely, that victims of human rights impacts should have access to an effective remedy. The draft does not however, discuss in detail how remedy might be enforced.

To understand how remedy enforcement may work in practice, the UNGPs offer some guidance. They point to the National Contact Point (NCP). NCPs are a product of the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises and provide victims of human rights violations with a platform to lodge a complaint against a corporation. The NCP’s role is to investigate this complaint and where appropriate, mediate on a solution, and act as an enforcer. This is not the NCP’s only role, but it is the aspect of its activities on which the UNGPs focus. The global experience of the NCP has been varied with promotion of the NCP’s activities differing depending on the nation state. Despite this, the UNGPs have continued to endorse the NCPs as both a potential route to effective remedy and as an enforcement mechanism.

In this article, we look at the legal framework on business and human rights in Ireland. We note that whereas the proposed draft treaty does not explicitly reference NCPs in its current form, the language contained within mirrors that of the UNGPs and the OECD (to a lesser extent) suggesting a role for the NCP moving forward. Therefore, we propose a list of recommendations to enhance the existing NCP framework, thus ensuring that, should the proposed treaty be developed (in line with the current draft) Ireland can fulfill its obligations and offer clear guidance for victims needing to engage the NCP framework.
Original languageEnglish
JournalIrish Jurist
Volume61
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2019

Keywords

  • Business and Human Rights
  • UNGPs
  • OECD
  • National Contact Point

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