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Human Rights guidance in Public Procurement launched

29 Jan 2019

Human Rights Guidance in Public Procurement launched

Taking a human rights-based approach to procurement helps to prevent human rights violations locally, and across the world. That is the message of new guidance produced by Construction & Procurement Delivery (CPD) in collaboration with the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission.

The Procurement Guidance Note, ‘Human Rights in Public Procurement’, will be launched today in Belfast, and sets out the legal obligations for contractors to consider human rights when conducting procurement processes. It includes measures to prevent and mitigate human rights violations.

Chief Commissioner, Les Allamby, stated:

“We commend the Department of Finance for their development of this Procurement Guidance Note. An estimated £2.7 billion is spent by NI Departments and their arm’s length bodies on the procurement of goods, services and works each year, and these activities can have both positive and negative impacts on the human rights of people living in both Northern Ireland and overseas. It is crucial that human rights are embedded in such processes, to help eradicate modern slavery, illegal child labour and health and safety breaches which often have fatal consequences.

“We have seen the reputational damage to businesses when they do not pay proper attention to human rights in their supply chains, by engaging with companies overseas who only pay their workers 35 pence an hour during a 16 hour a day shift - far below the average national wage. This guidance document will be a game-changer for how public procurement exercises are conducted in Northern Ireland, and provides information on how to identify potential risks to human rights in contracts and include human rights considerations in contract documentation to mitigate against them. The Commission has worked alongside the Department for several years, and welcomes the opportunity to launch this document in the company of members of the Northern Ireland Business and Human Rights Forum. We look forward to continuing this relationship, and assisting the Department to implement the Procurement Guidance Note across all departments and arms-length bodies.”

Permanent Secretary to the Department of Finance, Sue Gray, will give an address at the launch, which will be followed by the January meeting of the Northern Ireland Business and Human Rights Forum.

Sue Gray, Permanent Secretary at the Department of Finance, said:

“I welcome the engagement between CPD and the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission in the development of the Procurement Guidance Note on Human Rights in Public Procurement.

“The guide describes the legal obligations placed on a Contracting Authority and Contractors with regard to human rights, and how to incorporate human rights considerations when conducting a public procurement process.”

This collaborative work by CPD and Commission realises the commitment set out in the UK National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights to ‘ensure that UK Government procurement rules allow for human rights-related matters to be reflected in the procurement of public goods, works and services’. The Procurement Guidance Note sets Northern Ireland out as a leading example of best practice in the international arena of business and human rights.



1. The Procurement Guidance Note, ‘Human Rights in Public Procurement’, was developed by the Department of Finance in consultation with the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission. It was published on 19 December 2018, and is accessible here:

2. The event will also see the launch of an animation on Procurement and Human Rights, which highlights how businesses might prevent and mitigate human rights violations, such as mapping its supply chains and establishing transparent grievance mechanisms. It contains several case studies of public procurement activities that have gone wrong, often with fatal consequences. The animation can be viewed here:

3. The Northern Ireland Business and Human Rights Forum was established by the Commission in 2015 as a multi-stakeholder platform for engagement by Government, business and civil society on business and human rights issues. For more information, or to attend a meeting of the Forum, visit:

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