This website is an online “one stop shop” for information regarding the development of National Action Plans (NAPs) on Business and Human Rights. It is managed by the Danish Institute for Human Rights (DIHR).
What are National Action Plans (NAPs)?
NAPs are policy documents in which a government articulates priorities and actions that it will adopt to support the implementation of international, regional, or national obligations and commitments with regard to a given policy area or topic.
The UN Working Group on human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises (UN Working Group), mandated by the Human Rights Council to promote the effective and comprehensive implementation of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs), noted in its 2016 Guidance on business and human rights NAPs that they can be an important means to promote the implementation of the UNGPs.
Where do NAPs come from?
NAPs are not unique to the topic of business and human rights. Many governments have developed and adopted NAPs on various policy areas or topics, including but not limited to: human rights, development, corporate social responsibility, women’s rights, peace and security, children’s rights, climate change, renewable energy, cyber-security, and open government.
The UN Human Rights Council unanimously endorsed the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs) in 2011. Since then, the international community has converged on the UNGPs as a framework for preventing, addressing, and remediating business-related human rights abuses and on the need for states to adopt NAPs to promote implementation of business and human rights frameworks, including the UNGPs.
The UN Human Rights Council, European Union (EU) bodies, the Council of Europe, individual governments, civil society groups, national human rights institutions (NHRIs), and business associations have issued formal statements calling for governments to develop NAPs. At the inter-American level, the OAS has called on its Member States to implement the UNGPs.
What are some of the benefits of NAPs?
The development of a NAP presents a government with the opportunity to review the extent of its implementation of business and human rights frameworks, including the UNGPs, at the national level and then to identify gaps and reforms to increase coherence with the government’s human rights commitments across business-related legal and policy frameworks and programs. If undertaken in an inclusive, transparent, and participatory manner, the process of developing a NAP can also be a catalyst for establishing multi-stakeholder coalitions supportive of progress on business and human rights, as well as with regard to the achievement of broader agendas, such as the recently concluded Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
How do NAPs relate to the Sustainable Development Goals?
In 2015, the UN General Assembly unanimously adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (2030 Agenda) and 17 Sustainable Development Goals. The 2030 Agenda seeks to achieve transformative change with respect to people, planet, prosperity, peace and partnership. Responsible business has a key role to play; the 2030 Agenda underlines the potential of the private sector to foster innovation and inclusive growth, while calling on States to ensure that their efforts to implement the 2030 Agenda align with the standards laid out by the UNGPs and other international agreements.
This can be achieved in a number of ways, including through business and human rights NAPs. To ensure their effective implementation, it is critical that business and human rights NAPs go hand in hand with national implementation of the 2030 Agenda. The UN Working Group has called on States to ensure “coherence with national action plans for the implementation of the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. Conversely, national action plans focused on business and human rights should clarify how the Guiding Principles will be integrated in the context of SDG implementation.”
How does the Danish Institute for Human Rights support NAP development?
The Danish Institute for Human Rights (DIHR) has supported stakeholders including NGOs, academic institutions and NHRIs to develop national baseline assessments through guidance and training. The DIHR has advised and supported governments to develop NAPs in Chile, Denmark, Georgia, amongst others, and is currently supporting the NAP development processes in Kenya, Ukraine, and Zambia.
The DIHR has used its experience and learnings to produce resources to support and share good practice examples. These are available at https://globalnaps.org/resources/
Questions or comments?
For more information, feedback or for a request regarding this website, please contact Daniel Morris at the DIHR - damo (@) humanrights.dk
DIHR would like to acknowledge the following organisations and individuals for their critical contributions to this website:
- Sida and DANIDA for their financial support to the project
- The International Corporate Accountability Roundtable (ICAR) for its long term partnership with DIHR on developing tools and guidance on NAPs
- The Polish Institute for Human Rights and Business and Sustentia for developing some of the website content
- All the individuals from civil society organisations, NHRIs, governments who kindly reviewed the content.
Responsibility for any errors present lies with the DIHR. We would appreciate these being brought to our attention.
Multiple actors may find particular value in this website:
- Government officials and elected representatives may use this website to, for example, orient domestic policy-making, including at the local and sub-national levels; inform positions taken in international institutions or standard-setting processes; and support alignment between NAPs and other national plans and inform capacity-building efforts at all levels of government.
- National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) may use this website to undertake NBAs on business and human rights on their own accord or on request from their government. This website will also be helpful to NHRIs where they act as conveners of NAPs development processes, including NAP stakeholder committees. Information contained within this website can further be utilised by NHRIs to inform monitoring, investigations, education, and reporting activities linked to business and human rights issues, in line with their UN Paris Principles mandates.
- Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) may use this website to inform the standard of a NAP process or to help in the creation of shadow NBAs to monitor and evaluate state commitments and progress in implementing the UNGPs, thereby supporting advocacy and dialogue with states and businesses. They can also use this website when preparing reports and submissions to national, regional, or international supervisory bodies on topics relevant to business and human rights.
- Businesses may utilise this website to inform themselves about measures that can be expected of states in implementing the UNGPs, thereby preparing themselves for participation in NAP development processes.
- Multilateral and bilateral development agencies may find this website useful when assessing baseline conditions and in designing and monitoring programmes and projects.
- Media, researchers, and academia can use this website to help orient investigations, analysis, research, and reporting on government responses to the UNGPs, corporate accountability, and sustainable development more broadly.
The description ‘by country’ (https://globalnaps.org/country/) of each NAP for the website includes a combination of text analysis as well as information from relevant resource persons where possible. The break-down of the content of each NAP into the different topics is undertaken primarily through text analysis by DIHR researchers. In addition, where possible, DIHR researchers reach out to relevant individuals and organisations to supplement information about the NAP process and content. Additional information provided by such individuals or organisations is used primarily to supplement information provided on the process for the development of the NAP, to complement any description of the process provided in the NAP itself. Furthermore, public domain information about each NAP is sourced to inform the description. Lastly, where DIHR researchers were involved in a particular NAP process, information gained through such involvement is included to inform the NAP description. As part of developing the ‘by country’ descriptions for the website, DIHR researchers also issued a questionnaire to solicit additional information from stakeholders regarding the NAPs developed. Questions focused on both the content and process of the NAPs and the questionnaire was sent to any relevant contact persons known to DIHR researchers as having been involved in the NAPs processes or having relevant information about these processes. There was significant variation in the level of information received to the questionnaire, as well as the level of information provided in different NAPs or that is publicly available about different NAPs processes. In addition, the analysis, being an ongoing process stretching over multiple years, is undertaken by different DIHR researchers. Hence, while all attempts have been made to ensure as much consistency in the analysis and descriptions as possible, large variations exist in the amount and accuracy of information provided on the website.
The ‘by issue’ (https://globalnaps.org/issue/) analysis featured on the NAPs website was generated by a DIHR researcher going through each NAP, using a range of search terms, to break down the information. Again, being a multi-year process, the research was undertaken by different DIHR researchers, accounting for some variation in analysis. Likewise, the search terms used have been adapted over time and evolved to capture new insights and dynamics on a progressive-improvement basis. A list of the search terms (as of February 2020) is provided here. This version of the search terms was used for approximately half of the NAPs analysed, whereas the other half were analysed prior to consolidation of this version of the search terms list. Lastly, it should be noted that NAPs were usually analysed in their original language, hence it is not guaranteed that this corresponds exactly to a different language version of the NAP subsequently issued (e.g., the Belgium NAP was analysed in French and then translated within the DIHR, before the English language version was published). However, it is assumed that analysis of subsequently issued alternative language versions would yield similar results.