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UN expert group welcomes India’s plan to promote corporate respect for human rights

GENEVA (22 March 2019) –  A UN group of experts has welcomed India’s pledge to promote corporate respect for human rights after it became the first South Asian country to start the process of preparing a National Action Plan (NAP) on Business and Human Rights.

“We welcome the concrete steps taken by the Government to identify current gaps and develop a cohesive policy framework to promote corporate respect for human rights,” said Surya Deva, Chairperson of the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights.

“We call on the Indian Government to conduct an inclusive consultation process, in line with the Working Group’s Guidance on National Action Plans, involving all relevant stakeholders, including national and provincial human rights institutions, human rights defenders, civil society organisations, business enterprises, industry associations, trade unions and academia.”

The UN Working Group is promoting the development of NAPs to advance the business and human rights agenda worldwide, and the UN Human Rights Council has called upon all States to develop such plans. To date, 21 countries have produced a NAP on Business and Human Rights, and NAP processes have been initiated by governments in another 23 countries.*

India’s Zero Draft of a National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights is meant to kick start a national dialogue to prepare a National Action Plan (NAP) by 2020, in line with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.

The Zero Draft was followed by the recent publication of the National Guidelines on Responsible Business Conduct to foster a business environment that respects human rights. The National Guidelines were released in the context of the inaugural UN South Asia Forum on Business and Human Rights held in New Delhi, India on 14-15 March 2019.

“The Indian Government should take the opportunity to develop a NAP on Business and Human Rights to introduce a model of inclusive and sustainable development that leaves no one behind and gives special attention to the human rights of disadvantaged sections of society.”

The Working Group invites the governments and all stakeholders to report back on progress made to the global UN Forum on Business and Human Rights, due to be held in Geneva, Switzerland, from 25 to 27 November 2019.

ENDS

(*) See overview current of NAP processes

The UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, unanimously endorsed by the UN Human Rights Council in 2011 (resolution 17/4), provide the authoritative global standard for action to safeguard human rights in a business context, clarifying what is expected by governments and companies to prevent and address impacts on human rights arising from business activity.

The UN Working Group on human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises (known as the Working Group on Business and Human Rights) was established by the UN Human Rights Council in June 2011 to promote worldwide dissemination and implementation of the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. The Working Group is composed of five independent experts, of balanced geographical representation. Its current members are: Mr. Surya Deva (Chairperson), Ms. Elżbieta Karska (Vice-Chairperson), Mr. Githu Muigai, Mr. Dante Pesce, and Ms. Anita Ramasastry. The Working Group and Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world.

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