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New recommendations published on National Action Plans on Business & Human Rights

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ECCJ published recommendations to European Governments on National Action Plan on business and human rights (NAP) The recommendations identify what the current ideal content and process of a NAP should be. The recommendations build on previous works carried out by ECCJ and other leading CSOs in the field. Many of their key elements have already been endorsed by the Council of Europe in its recently adopted Recommendation on Human Rights and Business (March 2016).

In 2011, the EU became the first region worldwide to call on its governments to develop National Action Plans (NAPs) to implement the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs). Almost five years later, only seven European States have released a NAP. Despite some positive initiatives, these examples fall short of effectively addressing the challenges faced by victims of corporate-related abuses.

Our recommendations look at Pillars 1 and 3 of the UNGPs, related to the States’ duty to protect human rights, and to improve access to justice. Pillar 2 on corporate responsibility to respect human rights is analysed through the State duty to protect, as it comprises the obligation to prevent human rights infringement by business enterprises.

Some of the key measures presented in the document include the following:

An inclusive and evidence-based process beyond CSR

Governments should keep in mind that the State duty to prevent human rights abuses by companies goes beyond the field of corporate social responsibility (CSR). Thus, the adoption of a NAP should define a standalone objective different from other incentive-based policies to improve corporate conduct. The drafting process should also be based on an accurate assessment of the applicable international and national laws in the State, so that the NAP attends the specificities of each context.

Recommendations on content: states duty to protect human rights and to provide access to remedy for victims

The underlying idea is that NAPs should mainly rest on regulatory actions, which are more likely to effectively address existing governance gaps. Some of the main recommendations provide that corporate duty of care and mandatory human rights due diligence (HRDD) should be embedded into national legislation, with special emphasis given to high-risks activities or areas, and that companies must also be legally required to report on the human rights and environmental risks linked to their operations and relationships.

Regarding access to remedy, the paper highlights the states’ duty to guarantee access to remedy for victims of corporate human rights abuses, and the need for NAPs to identify and address the financial, procedural, legal, and judicial barriers faced by victims of corporate abuse both inside EU and in third countries and with a particular focus in most vulnerable and marginalised groups.

For more information please contact Jerome Chaplier, ECCJ Coordinator: coordinator@corporatejustice.org

For more information on the state of implementation of the UNGPs please go to our UNGPs+5 section.

Find out more by reading the full version of the ECCJ Recommendation on National Action Plans.

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