Corporate social responsibility: reflecting Australian legal approaches to human rights



Publication Details

A. Begum, 'Corporate social responsibility: reflecting Australian legal approaches to human rights' (2015) 36 (9) Company Lawyer 279-287.


Human Rights (HR) have become an important aspect of corporate social responsibility (CSR) in Australia as elsewhere in the developed world. The "triple bottom line" approach to CSR requires corporations to respect HR and meet minimum international standards in maintaining and managing their affairs. Despite significant economic and non-economic advances made by corporations, their affairs are often perceived to have stimulated a detrimental impact on HR. This impact becomes significant owing to the increased economic power and political influence gained by the corporation in recent decades. In response to this phenomenon and to combat potential abuses of corporate power, different regulatory approaches have emerged which obligate corporations to pursue CSR-based policies and considerations in conducting their activities. In particular, recent developments in CSR have endorsed specific HR provisions to foster responsible corporate business and compliance with these provisions. This article aims to investigate the Australian legal approaches to HR by placing special focus on the way the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has been striving to advance the regulatory goal of protecting HR and CSR. It concludes that despite some limitations, the AHRC's initiatives reflect a positive progression towards HR and CSR, and are indicative of its sincere commitment to international obligations under relevant instruments.

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