NAP Development Process
Spain’s ‘Plan de Acción Nacional de Empresa y Derechos Humanos‘ was approved by the Spanish Council of Ministers on July 29th 2017.
In December 2012, the Human Rights Office of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation (MAEC) organised a two-day seminar seeking to foster a debate on the situation and challenges faced by Spain’s public institutions, companies and civil society regarding the UN Guiding Principles. The seminar was developed with technical assistance from Sustentia and support from the University Carlos III of Madrid and Spain’s CSR Observatory. The number of assistants was estimated in 240: 40 from private sector, 20 from embassies of different countries, 20 from relevant Spanish public institutions, 40 from civil society organizations and 120 from the general public.
The first statement of intent to begin developing a NAP on business and human rights took place during a meeting with Civic Society Organizations on February 4, 2013, and soon after during a meeting with businesses on February 11, 2013.
In early 2013, the Office for Human Rights commissioned two external experts to assist the MAEC with the development of a draft NAP and coordination of the corresponding consultation process. Broad-based stakeholder consultations were conducted before the start of the drafting process.
During the first phase of the drafting process, from February 2013 to June 2013, a first round of informal consultations was held with Public Administrations, businesses, and civil society, attended by around hundred representatives, including disability organizations. During those consultations, the work plan was explained with a timeline of approximately 12 months (covering 2013), the documentation on the UN Guiding Principles was made known, and the first observations of the invited actors were heard. Participants were asked to submit their written comments, and these were received during February and March 2013. As result of these consultations a first draft was prepared by an external expert with an academic background. On the government side, the Office for Human Rights in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs provided support and made suggestions to the document. A first draft was shared with stakeholders in June 2013, thus opening the second phase of the drafting process.
However, in September 2013 the Office for Human Rights decided to halt the drafting process and to intensify consultations following strong internal and external opposition to the document. No formal working group was set up to develop the NAP. The Office for Human Rights subsequently held repeated written and face-to-face consultations with representatives of other government agencies.
The draft text was also used as a point of departure for discussion during the consultation meeting convened at the House of America in Madrid, on June 26, 2013. This discussion brought together representatives from public administrations, companies and civil society, and generated different contributions and suggestions to the presented text. Participants were also asked to send in their written comments and ideas, in order to strengthen and improve the text that was being worked on during July and August. The UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights was also consulted during the process, with one of its (now former) members, Mrs. Alejandra Guáqueta, meeting with the officials from MAEC and the Ministry of the Presidency to hear their opinions on the implementation of the national plan.
A new round of engagements began in September 2013, starting with a meeting on October 4, 2013 with different MAEC addresses and institutions interested and involved in the topic. A representative from the British Embassy also took part in the meeting. They shared the British experience of NAP drafting and presented the recently approved UK NAP. A draft text proposal of the NAP was agreed.
The consolidated text of the draft NAP was then discussed at a meeting held with the different administration departments on 30 October, 2013, with the aim of reaching a consensus document. Subsequently, the different ministerial units were invited send in written comments. In the third phase, which began in December 2013, the draft text was sent to various Ministries and departments involved, to seek their opinions on the draft. The revision process lasted until the middle of March 2014, with the final version of the NAP being finalised at the end of June 2014.
When the draft was finally forwarded in September to the Council of Ministers for approval, the process was frozen by the Ministry of the Presidency after conversations with business organizations and the economic ministries.
During a three-year pause, the draft went through substantial modifications without any further public consultation, and this final version was finally approved on 29th July 2017 by the Council of Ministers, without any stakeholder consultation.
While there were no standing structures for stakeholder inclusion and consultation, the process provided multiple opportunities for stakeholders to provide their comments and suggestions. All the stakeholder events were in Madrid during the design phase of the draft.
The Office for Human Rights, in collaboration with external experts, conducted early consultation meetings with different non-governmental stakeholder groups including disability organizations, which informed the initial drafting of the plan. In June 2013, the first version of the NAP draft was presented to stakeholders for comments. Feedback from the stakeholders was such that the Office decided to halt the drafting process in September 2013 and invest additional time in stakeholder consultations.
A relevant role as external advisors was played by Maria Prandi and Isabel Roser, who were supported by the Office for Human Rights, defined the work process, carried out consultations with governmental and non-governmental stakeholders and established the draft document. In order to garner additional academic support, the consultants took advice from a ad hoc-formed group of approximately 20 academics from the fields of law, economics, political science and development studies.
In spite of the participation during the first drafting of the NAP, following the process’ interruption in 2014, deep changes were made and the NAP was finally approved in July 2017 without any known participation from civil society organisations. The final NAP was mainly defined by the Public Administration and Economic Ministries’ vision.
National Baseline Assessment (NBA)
An NBA was not conducted before the NAP process was undertaken.
However, the NAP does foresee the examination of existing regulations and policies in certain areas and the possibility for the Monitoring Commission established by the Plan itself to make recommendations aimed at improving the implementation of the Guiding Principles (see GP3 action point 3, GP 4 action point 1, GP 8 action point 1, GP 25 action point 1 and GP 27 measure 1).
An NBA has not been undertaken since the NAP was published.
Follow-up, monitoring, reporting and review
The Spanish NAP was conceived as “the first step on a continuous process rather than a final and lasting outcome” and has therefore a final provision regarding monitoring and update.
A Monitoring Commission composed by representatives of different ministries -and which may include the Ombudsman’s Office as a non-voting member- is to meet at least twice a year. The Commission is responsible for the following:
- Taking into account the opinions from different social actors through annual meetings (labor unions, business associations, universities and civil society organizations).
- Ensuring coordination with the activities carried out by the State Council of CSR through annual meetings.
- Assessing the implementation of the NAP. In order to do this the Commission must develop a monitoring sheet for each action point including compliance indicators, appointment of the ministry or body in charge and an implementation schedule.
- Developing new proposals for the plan.
- Submitting an annual report to Spain’s General Courts.
- Two years after the approval of the plan, assessing its impact regarding the prevention, mitigation and remediation of the negative impacts on Human Rights caused by business activities.
- Once the NAP expires (three years after it approval), drafting of an updated version..
Together with this, the Commission is able to call sector meetings in order to assess specific points within the NAP.
Stakeholders views and analysis on the NAP
- Amnesty International, Spain’s NGDO Platform, Spain’s Fair Trade Platform, Greenpeace, Spain’s CSR Observatory, Enlázate por la Justicia and Spain’s Human Rights Federation: The new NAP: an insufficient step
- Spanish Social Economy Business Association (CEPES): CEPES has a positive view of the Government’s Plan on Business and Human Rights
- NGO AWA (engineering for human development): Open letter to Rajoy about the NAP
- Ecologistas en Acción: Disagreement and deep disappointment about the NAP.
- Juan Hernández Zubizarreta; Pedro Ramiro: ¿What ever happened to the NAP? ‘
- Amnesty International: Plan on Business and Human Rights: Top Secret.
- Acces Info Europe and CIECODE (Fundación Salvador Soler): Shh… the Spanish NAP is top secret
- SIC (Catholic Information Service Agency): Enlázate por la Justicia reports shortcoming on the NAP
- Agora (collective intelligence for sustainability): Approval of Spain’s National Action Plan
- REDES (Network of Entities for Solidary Development): Spain approves its NAP
- SIRSE: Spain’s NAP weaknesses
- Katharina Miller (Compromiso Empresarial): Human Rights and Business: about the difficulty of doing good
- Comisiones Obreras (1st Spanish Trade Union): The Implementation of the UNGP in Spain.
- Andreas Graf: Developing National Action Plans on Business and Human Rights: Lessons from European States’ April, 2013