UK Govt. publishes updated National Action Plan on business & human rights

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Article
6 June 2016

UNICEF UK commentary: Updated UK Natl. Action Plans falls short on policy coherence, procurement, access to remedy & children

Author: Francis West, UNICEF UK, on LSE Measuring Business & Human Rights blog

"Leadership and being first aren’t the same things: An assessment of the UK National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights", Jun 2016

For those that retain faith in the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (and we at Unicef UK are certainly amongst that number), that the UK Government has re-iterated its commitment to the Principles and the expectation that UK Plc should be undertaking human rights due diligence is entirely welcome. However, when it comes to substantive action to implement the Principles, the picture the Plan paints is rather less positive.Here are four areas where the Government falls frustratingly short: 1. Prioritisation and policy coherence...2. Public procurement... 3. Access to remedy...4. Silence on children...Overall...the updated Plan appears to reflect a move towards looking at the work that Government can fund on business and human rights, rather than matching this with a focus on its own day to day business...

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Article
13 May 2016

CORE comments on updated UK Natl. Action Plan

Author: CORE Coalition

"UK publishes updated Business and Human Rights Action Plan"

It’s largely descriptive and thin on new commitments, but there are a few notable statements. There’s a commitment to continuing to ensure that UK Government procurement rules allow for human-rights related matters to be reflected in the procurement of public goods, works and services.Work to support human rights defenders working on issues related to business and human rights...through embassies and high commissions is to be continued. The UK will “support the EU commitment to consider the possible human rights impacts of free trade agreements, including where these include investment protection provisions, and take appropriate steps including through the incorporation of human rights clauses as appropriate”. As part of international advocacy on the UNGPs...diplomatic missions are to be instructed “…to raise with local authorities our concerns in situations where companies have problems implementing their human rights responsibilities because local law is incompatible with international human rights law.” The biggest gap in the plan is on remedy; only three commitments and none of them new or substantive. The plan offers very little to people who have been denied justice after being harmed by UK companies. While the lack of ambition in many areas is disappointing, the publication of the updated plan demonstrates that the UK remains engaged with the business and human rights agenda. We now need other States to publish plans that raise the bar, so when it comes to the next update the UK will be under pressure to step up and match international efforts.

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Item
13 May 2016

Updated UK National Action Plan on business & human rights

Author: UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office

The update of the UK’s National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights was published on the 12 May 2016 and reflects the broad range of activity and engagement which takes place across a large number of government departments. This update reaffirms the UK’s commitment to the implementation of the United Nations Guiding Principles (UNGP) on Business and Human Rights, and acknowledges the duty of government but also sets out our expectation that UK businesses will act responsibly and in accordance with the UNGPs, wherever they operate.

[The NAP is available in English, Arabic, Spanish, French, Chinese, Russian, Lithuanian and Portuguese]

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