Human Rights Policy: Doing the Right Things in the Right Way
Date of drafting and first approval: May 2021
Who this policy applies to:
HAG as a business, HAG staff, and those who we work with, are all required to uphold the commitments within this document. This document has been reviewed by all staff and approved at Director level.
Why do we need a human rights policy?
Humanitarian Advisory Group is an ethically driven business that combines humanitarian passion with entrepreneurial agility and innovation. We are courageous, principled and results-focused thinkers and doers who still believe that humanitarianism is one of the most sacred ‘isms’ in the world.
The substance that we work on here at Humanitarian Advisory Group is in the humanitarian realm, which means is guided by the principles of humanity, impartiality, neutrality and independence. So, you might think because we work on humanitarian issues with humanitarian agencies it doesn’t matter how we actually do that work, it’s enough that it’s all good stuff, right? Wrong.
When it comes to the way in which we do our work, we want to be clear – upholding human rights is central to who we are and how we operate. The process of money changing hands has a very real impact that we are aware of. We want to ensure that there is a positive impact of work that we produce, but also in the way that we deliver that work.
We may be small, but as a social enterprise we are committed to ensuring that our operations do not exacerbate existing entrenched inequalities and rather supports progress and change towards social justice and fulfilment of human rights. We are an anti-racist organisation, meaning we don’t just abhor the injustice that racism perpetrates, but we work to address it.
How will we walk the talk?
Our values include respect for human rights. As a business, we support and are guided by the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Ten Principles of the Global Compact, and United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.
Humanitarian Advisory Group therefore commits to:
- Avoid infringing on the human rights of others.
- Address adverse human rights impacts with which we are involved. This includes taking adequate measures to prevent, mitigate, and where appropriate, remediate any negative impacts of our work.
In both instances, our commitments relate to impacts upon people within our organisation and people directly or indirectly impacted by our work.
Humanitarian Advisory Group recognises human rights to include those expressed in the International Bill of Human Rights, and the principles concerning rights set out in the International Labour Organisation’s Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work. Humanitarian Advisory Group commits to uphold these rights at a minimum, and endeavours to meet additional standards which may be applicable in specific circumstances. For instance, Humanitarian Advisory Group is committed to respecting the rights of Indigenous People, and is committed to continued improvement in our actions within this area.
In order to meet our responsibility to respect Human Rights, HAG has in place the following:
- This policy commitment to meet our responsibility to respect human rights
- Processes through which to conduct due diligence with regard to human rights
- Processes to enable remediation of adverse human rights impacts HAG causes or contributes to.
Human Rights Due Diligence Processes
HAG is a small enterprise with objectively lower risks than many organisations regarding the potential scale, scope, and irremediable nature of human rights impacts. However, risks of infringement, or adverse human rights impacts, do exist.
HAG maintains external accreditations which address human rights concerns. HAG is accredited as a B-Corp Certified Business, and certified Social Traders social enterprise. As a B-Corp Certified Business, HAG undergoes an assessment of our impact on workers, the community and the environment (including disclosures regarding sensitive industries (i.e. resource extraction, alcohol, tabaco, gambling) and industries at risk of human rights violations), and makes a commitment to transparency with the B Impact Report publicly available on bcorporation.net.
HAG completes due diligence processes as part of receiving funds from government. These measures ensure comprehensive consideration of human rights, as well as contribution or assessment by experts outside of the business so as to ensure higher levels of objectivity and expertise in our due diligence procedures.
HAG also assesses risk of negative human rights impact, and details mitigation, wherever such risks arise. Detail of specific risks and risk mitigation are then noted in relevant reports wherever appropriate. For instance, risks of harm to research participants, and mechanisms to address these, are discussed and agreed upon with any research partners, and are noted in research reports. As an organisation, we adhere to the Australian Council For International Development’s Principles and Guidelines for Ethical Research and Evaluation in Development. The four core principles underpinning ethical research are:
- Respect for Human Beings – We recognise the intrinsic value of each human being and are committed to participant welfare first and foremost.
- Beneficence – Our actions are done to benefit others; the expected benefit of our research is weighed against potential discomfort to participants and we strive to minimise risk at every stage of the research, embracing the ‘Do no Harm’ principle.
- Research Merit and Integrity – Our research is well-justified, high-quality, and committed to a genuine search for knowledge.
- Justice – Our research is equitable and non-discriminatory, with unbiased recruitment of participants and equal opportunity to participate.
HAG commits to reviewing the overarching Human Rights Policy, and associated due diligence mechanisms, every 4 years, with the next review to be completed no later than March 2025.
The key internal policies that make this commitment to human rights a reality are:
- The Way We Roll – Our code of conduct, including Protection against Sexual Exploitation and Abuse, Child Protection and Whistle-blower Protection policies
- Ethical Procurement Framework and Policy
- Reconciliation and Justice Policy
- Diversity and Inclusion Policy
- Equal employment opportunity (EEO) & anti-bullying
- Environment Policy
- Fraud and corruption: preventing and reporting
- Grievance policy and procedures
Even with the best policies and practices, HAG acknowledges that it may cause or contribute to an adverse human rights impact that it has not foreseen or been able to prevent. Should we identify such a situation, we commit to active engagement in remediation. Mechanisms for this include judicial and non-judicial mechanisms. These include, but are not limited to:
- Fair Work Act 2009 and the National Employment Standards
- Internal processes outlined within relevant policies at HAG such as our: Grievance Policy and Procedures, Whistle blower Protection Policy, Equal Opportunity Employment and Anti-Bullying Policy and Protection against Sexual Exploitation, Abuse and Harassment Policy. HAG commits to ensuring that these processes it engages in comply with the effectiveness criteria for non-judicial grievance mechanisms as outlined in the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. These are:
- ‘Legitimate: enabling trust from the stakeholder groups for whose use they are intended, and being accountable for the fair conduct of grievance processes;
- Accessible: being known to all stakeholder groups for whose use they are intended, and providing adequate assistance for those who may face particular barriers to access;
- Predictable: providing a clear and known procedure with an indicative time frame for each stage, and clarity on the types of process and outcome available and means of monitoring implementation;
- Equitable: seeking to ensure that aggrieved parties have reasonable access to sources of information, advice and expertise necessary to engage in a grievance process on fair, informed and respectful terms;
- Transparent: keeping parties to a grievance informed about its progress, and providing sufficient information about the mechanism’s performance to build confidence in its effectiveness and meet any public interest at stake;
- Rights-compatible: ensuring that outcomes and remedies accord with internationally recognized human rights;
- A source of continuous learning: drawing on relevant measures to identify lessons for improving the mechanism and preventing future grievances and harms;
- Operational-level mechanisms should also be: Based on engagement and dialogue: consulting the stakeholder groups for whose use they are intended on their design and performance, and focusing on dialogue as the means to address and resolve grievances.’
There may be circumstances where HAG becomes aware of human rights violations linked to our operations. In these circumstances, HAG commits to promoting remediation, and compliance with mechanisms for achieving remediation, such as the judicial process.
 United Nations. Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights: Implementing the United Nations “Protect, Respect and Remedy” Framework. New York and Geneva: 2011, pp.33-34.