2 Feb 2018
Canada Creates Advisory Body on Responsible Business Conduct Abroad
The Canadian government has created an ombudsperson and a multi-stakeholder advisory body to promote responsible business conduct by Canadian businesses operating abroad. The ombudsperson will be authorised to investigate allegations of human rights abuses arising from Canadian corporate activity abroad, recommend solutions and monitor implementation of those recommendations. The ombudsperson’s mandate will be clearly articulated in an Order in Council and any evidence of possible criminal wrongdoing may be referred to the appropriate law enforcement authorities.
The ombudsperson will be guided by internationally respected norms, including the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises. In addition to its ability to undertake collaborative and independent fact-finding, the ombudsperson will promote respect for human rights and responsible business conduct as well as the adoption and implementation of best practices by Canadian businesses. While the scope of the ombudsperson’s activities will be multi-sectoral, he or she will initially focus on the oil and gas, mining and garment sectors, with the expectation to expand within a year of the ombudsperson taking office to other business sectors.
The multi-stakeholder Advisory Body on Responsible Business Conduct, meanwhile, will have members from diverse backgrounds, including from civil society and industry. Its role will be to advise the Canadian government on the effective implementation and development of its laws, policies and practices related to responsible business conduct by Canadian companies operating abroad in all sectors. It will also advise the Minister of International Trade on the scope and development of the ombudsperson’s operating procedures and future direction, as appropriate. The government will be informed by advice from the advisory body on emerging developments related to business and human rights in order to remain at the forefront of global practice in responsible business conduct.
According to Canadian authorities, this announcement demonstrates Canada’s leadership in promoting responsible business conduct abroad. As part of ensuring that international trade and investment is working for all, the government is working with a range of interlocutors to promote responsible business conduct and provides funding to numerous projects and initiatives in countries around the world.