National Action Plans to Implement the UN Guiding Principles

The UN Working Group on business and human rights (UNWG) supports States in their efforts to implement the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. One of the UNWG’s priorities is to encourage States to adopt National Actions Plans (NAPs) on business and human rights in order to better align government and business activities with the Guiding Principles.

The UNWG published a guidance to assist States in developing and carrying out NAPs in order to advance global efforts to implement the Guiding Principles. On 1 September, 2014, Accountability Counsel provided comments in a public consultation to contribute to the UNWG’s guidance on NAPs, which highlighted the issues that States need to address in their NAPs in order to improve access to remedy. In particular, our submission underscored the State duty to ensure access to remedy for harm linked to international financial institutions and other State-linked agencies that support business enterprises, such as export finance and development agencies.

Read more about the UNWG’s efforts to promote national action plans here.

The Development of the U.S. National Action Plan on Responsible Business Conduct

On 24 September, 2014, President Obama announced plans to develop a NAP to promote responsible business conduct abroad, consistent with the Guiding Principles and the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises. The U.S. government held a series of public consultations and has solicited feedback to receive recommendations on how to implement the Guiding Principles and OECD Guidelines and work with the business community to promote human rights, responsible investment, and inclusive growth.

On 6 February, 2015, Accountability Counsel presented on a panel on improving access to remedy through the NAP at the public consultation in Berkeley, California and participated in the consultation in Washington, D.C. on 16 April, 2015. We also provided written submissions to Secretary of State John Kerry on the importance of providing access to remedy through grievance offices for communities that suffer from business-related human rights abuses. Our written submissions included:

Accountability Counsel also provided extensive comments to ICAR’s “Shadow” National Baseline Assessment. The assessment analyzed the extent of the U.S. government’s implementation of the Guiding Principles’ Third Pillar on access to remedy.

More information about the National Action Plan development process can be found here.

On 16 December, 2016, the U.S. government released the National Action Plan. An assessment of the NAP, based on the recommendations in our submissions, can be found here.

Other Resources

  • The ICAR and Danish Institute for Human Rights (DIHR) Toolkit for the Development, Implementation, and Review of State Commitments to Business and Human Rights Frameworks
  • The Business and Human Rights Resource Centre’s NAPs resource page