See online : Damiano De Felice and Andreas Graf


Building on the academic literature on state compliance with international norms, and focusing specifically on the business and human rights agenda, this article offers the first systematic analysis of the numerous roles that National Action Plans (NAPs) can play in fostering deep implementation of human rights norms. The article argues that this potential can be fully exploited only if the production of NAPs follows eight criteria. The process of NAP development should: (1) be based on a comprehensive baseline study/gap analysis; (2) include all relevant state agencies; (3) allow effective multi-stakeholder participation; and (4) continuously monitor implementation. In terms of content, NAPs should: (5) express firm commitment to implement the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights; (6) conform as much as possible to the structure and substance of this UN document; (7) offer unambiguous commitments and clear deadlines for future action; and (8) envisage capacity-building initiatives. While numerous governments have embarked on the process of developing NAPs to implement the UN Guiding Principles, drafting processes differ with respect to the form of cooperation among state administrations, the level of consultation with external stake-holders and the extent of engagement with independent experts. The content varies as well: some NAPs are forward-looking, others are mainly descriptive; some offer clear commitments and deadlines, others include nothing but vague aspirations. The article assesses the most advanced NAPs on the basis of the above-mentioned eight criteria.