Advancing Canada’s Approach on Responsible Business Conduct Abroad

Backgrounder

The new initiatives – the creation of an Ombudsperson and a multi-stakeholder Advisory Body – are founded on a commitment to advance human rights and assist Canada in fulfilling its international human rights obligations. In this context, they will support Canadian companies in operating responsibly, and improve access to remedy for alleged human rights abuses arising from Canadian company operations abroad.

Canadian Ombudsperson for Responsible Enterprise (Ombudsperson)

The Ombudsperson will be authorized 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. 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 UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) 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, and the adoption and implementation of best practices by Canadian business.

The CORE’s scope will be multi-sectoral, initially focussing on the mining, oil and gas, and garment sectors, with the expectation to expand within a year of the Ombudsperson taking office to other business sectors.

Advisory Body on Responsible Business Conduct

The multi-stakeholder Advisory Body on Responsible Business Conduct will include members from diverse backgrounds including from civil society and industry. The Advisory Body’s role will be to advise the 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 CORE’s operating procedures and future direction, as appropriate.

Canada will be informed by advice from the Advisory Body on emerging developments related to business and human rights, to remain at the forefront of global practice in responsible business conduct.

Reinforcing Canada’s Approach to Inclusive Economic Growth and Sustainable Natural Resource Development

Today’s 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 of Canada works with a range of interlocutors to promote responsible business conduct, and provides funding to numerous projects and initiatives in countries around the world. Canada’s network of diplomatic missions abroad actively promotes awareness and understanding of the importance of responsible business practices and creates opportunities for relationship building through conferences, workshops and other activities involving companies, representatives of host governments, and civil society. Canadian Trade Commissioners around the world are a key delivery mechanism for advice and guidance on responsible business conduct for Canadian companies doing business abroad.

Sustainable natural resource development is also an important aspect of Global Affairs Canada’s efforts, focused on reducing poverty. Our work has focused on supporting governance capacity, inclusive green growth that works for everyone and local economic diversification. Canada’s new Feminist International Assistance Policy offers Global Affairs Canada and its partners an opportunity to develop new policies, approaches and programs on the management and use of natural resources from a more inclusive and human rights-based, feminist perspective.


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