Human Rights in Public Procurement: The duty of public bodies to respect, protect and promote human rights during the procurement process

February 19 2019

Northern Ireland Departments and their Arm’s Length Bodies spend some £2.7billion per annum on the procurement of goods, services and works. Decisions made in public procurement processes can have consequences on the enjoyment of human rights of local people and of people in supply chains across the world.

In discharging their duties, public authorities are explicitly tasked with respecting, protecting and promoting human rights, including during the public procurement process. Failure to respect an individual’s human rights conflicts with international standards and domestic law.

Public authorities must be able to demonstrate compliance with all relevant legislative standards and that they have considered and are aware of the potential risks to human rights in their areas of operation. They must be able to demonstrate that any further provisions to protect human rights have been addressed and put in place as necessary.

Such considerations include respect for end users’ rights and dignity; respect for the rights of contract workers and ensuring that the rights of supply chain workers are not violated through abuses such as forced labour, illegal child labour, human trafficking, excessive working hours and health and safety breaches.

Construction and Procurement Delivery has joined with the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission to produce a Procurement Guidance Notice (PGN03/18) to address this issue. Michael Watson, Acting Director of Procurement Policy and Performance, CPD and David Russell, Chief Executive of the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission will deliver this briefing and discussion opportunity on the PGN.