NAP Development Process
In a webinar on the 29 March 2021, The Portuguese Secretary of State for Commerce, Services and Consumer Protection, João Torres, announced that the Portuguese Ministry for the Economy and the Digital Transition is committed to implement the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights through a National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights (which has been in the drafting stage for a number of years). The Secretary, emphasised that business internationalisation, the integration in global value chains and sustainable development had converged towards the notion that companies must assume a role in the prevention of human rights and labour rights violations in their business activity.
The Secretary stated that the NAP will increase awareness among companies with respect to the impact of identification, prevention, mitigation and remedy of negative impacts that their activity may cause through the publication of the guide on remedy mechanisms and the promotion of European and international guiding instruments in the fields of responsible business conduct and human rights, including:
- The OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises
- The OECD Convention on combating bribery of foreign public officials in international business transactions
- The United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human rights
- Other legal such as EU Anti-Discrimination Directives and the European Convention on Human Rights.
The Secretary highlighted the role due diligence has in improving decision-making within companies and the necessity to take steps towards the ultimate goal of defending human rights in Portugal. Currently, there is no overarching legislative framework on Business and Human Rights in the country but rather a number of instruments covering certain specific areas pertaining to Business and Human Rights. Particularly, in relation to gender equality within companies, the disclosure of non-financial information (implementing the EU Non-Financial Reporting Directive), the prevention and fight against harassment in the workplace, and collective labour agreements. More information on the current state of play regarding business and human rights in Portugal is available here.