AEFJN Ireland, of which the OLA Justice Officer is chairperson, recently made a submission to the Irish Government’s Voluntary National Review (VNR) of progress in implementing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Stakeholders were invited to make submissions to the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications for inclusion in the report. Ireland will present its report to the UN High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development in July 2023. This report will outline Ireland’s progress towards achieving Agenda 2030, in light of the commitment to “Leave No One Behind.”

AEFJN Ireland made its submission on 20 February, focusing on the importance of building an international regulatory framework, informed by the Sustainable Development Goals and Human Rights, to address human rights violations in the global value chains of multinational corporations.

In our submission, AEFJN Ireland drew attention to the impact of corporation in undermining the achievement of the SDGs around the world, noting that:

“The complexity of globalized business relationships allow some corporations to turn a blind eye to human rights abuses in their value chains. The activities of corporations, both directly and indirectly, have contributed to the erosion of workers’ rights, environmental destruction, and forced and child labour. All of which undermine human rights and the achievement of the SDGs.”

We also noted that the globalized nature of the modern world means that implementing the SDGs cannot be restricted to what happens at home in Ireland, but also requires us as a nation to get involved in how they are achieved globally:

“The universal nature of human rights and Agenda 2030 mean that their full achievement rests on the principle that they be achieved everywhere. This is especially pertinent in relation to an increasingly globalized market, where we really are connected to people in far-flung parts of the world by a common participation in globalized corporate value chains. In such a market, no state can hope to regulate corporate activity alone, when so much of that corporate activity take place beyond its borders. Robust international regulation guided by human rights, rather than economic self-interest, is essential if the SDGs and human rights are to be realized in the context of a global market.”

We called for the Irish Government to play a leading role in negotiating both a UN binding Treaty on corporate accountability and human rights, as well as EU corporate accountability regulation.

“In the short to medium term, we urge Ireland to take a lead role in negotiating a strong Corporate Sustainability and Due Diligence Directive at the EU […] In the longer term, we ask that Ireland take up a leading role in progressing the negotiations on the proposed Binding Treaty on Business at the UN. We believe that these diplomatic objectives should be part of any national plan for the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals.”

Read the full AEFJN Submission to the VNR:  VNR Submission to the DECC – AEFJN Ireland – 20 February 2023.

John McGeady, OLA Justice Officer & Chair of AEFJN Ireland – 28 February 2023