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About the Project

National Action Plans on Business and Human Rights: Theoretical, Doctrinal and Empirical Perspectives

Contact: Dr Azadeh Chalabi

To put the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights into practice, in 2011 the European Union requested member states to adopt a National Action Plan (NAP) on Business and Human Rights and then in 2014 the UN Human Rights Council strongly encouraged each state to develop such plans. So far, these plans have been pursued by ten countries including the United Kingdom, Finland, the Netherlands, Italy, Denmark, Spain, Norway, Lithuania, Sweden and Colombia and at least 20 more countries such as the United States, Ireland, Mexico, Germany, Greece, Jordan and Malaysia are in the process of developing a NAP on Business and Human Rights. On the other hand, recently the Human Rights Council adopted a resolution calling for the establishment of an open-ended intergovernmental working group to elaborate an international legally-binding instrument to regulate the activities of transnational corporations and other business enterprises. However, very little has been worked on these plans and the possibility of developing a treaty on business and human rights and thus many aspects of such plans still remain unclear.

This research project seeks to explore National Action Plans on Business and Human rights from theoretical, doctrinal and empirical perspectives:

  • At the theoretical level, it will focus on the conceptual foundation of NAPs on business and human rights and examine the role of global governance in coordinating relevant stakeholders, from the local to the global, at different stages of planning.
  • At the doctrinal level, it aims to address the questions as to whether an international legally binding instrument would complement the UN current strategy on business and human rights, namely the implementation of the UN Guiding Principles through NAPs? Whether such legally binding instrument could contribute to the clarification of the scope of the states’ extra-territorial obligations? If so, then how? What would be the role and the legal status of a NAP in this case?
  • At the empirical level: a cross-case analysis of those NAPs on business and human rights which are available in English and a focused- case study of the UK NAPs on business and human rights will be conducted.