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ICAR-DIHR National Action Plans Project

This page provides information from the International Corporate Accountability Roundtable (ICAR) and the Danish Institute for Human Rights (DIHR) on their joint project on National Action Plans (NAPs) on business and human rights.  Please contact [email protected] with any feedback.



In today’s globalizing world, in which corporate mobility, complexity, and power continue to increase, many governments struggle to translate their duty to protect human rights into effective measures to ensure that businesses respect the rights of individuals, communities, and societies in practice.

Since the adoption of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs) by the UN Human Rights Council in 2011, much attention has focused on the corporate responsibility to respect human rights under Pillar 2 of the UNGPs.  So far, however, much less attention has been devoted to understanding and unpacking the State duty to protect human rights under Pillars 1 and 3.  Correspondingly, a diverse array of stakeholders have called for evidence that the State duty to protect is being implemented by governments and effectuated on the ground.

Against this background, ICAR and DIHR launched the National Action Plans (NAPs) Project in August 2013 with the goal of producing a robust toolkit in order to support the development and evaluation of NAPs on business and human rights in holding governments to account for progress in fulfilling the State duty to protect.

The NAPs toolkit is comprised of three key components:

1. A model National Baseline Assessment (NBA)

  • Organized systematically with reference to each of the UNGPs under Pillars 1 and 3, which most directly require State action;
  • Reflecting bottom-up (community-led) and top-down (desk-based) methodologies in assessing a State’s point-of-entry in implementing the UNGPs; and
  • Providing a framework for assessing State progress in UNGPs implementation over time.

2. A model National Action Plan (NAP)

  • Building on the model National Baseline Assessment (NBA);
  • Addressing both minimum content and a human rights-based consultation process for developing NAPs;
  • Addressing issues both within and beyond the State’s territorial jurisdiction; and
  • Addressing all relevant aspects of State regulation, including law, policy, procurement, investigation, monitoring, auditing, reporting, incentives and penalties regimes, and public information.

3. Proposals for reporting and reviewing States’ implementation of NAPs

  • At sub-regional, regional, and/or global levels;
  • On a periodic basis; and
  • Addressing alternative modalities, such as peer and expert review.

Combining research and consultations with stakeholders across Europe, Africa, Latin America, and the Asia-Pacific region, the NAPs Project aims to support progress by States toward effective implementation of the UNGPs.  The project actively seeks to inform and complement actions and initiatives in this area by all relevant actors, including individual States and the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights.

The NAPs Project’s final report and its "NAPs Toolkit" were released in June 2014. Both are available here.

Concept note

The NAPs Project concept note is available here. The concept note:

  • Provides an introduction to the project;
  • Summarizes the primary objectives of the project;
  • Outlines the project’s timeline;
  • Describes the background to the project and the project’s methodology; and
  • Introduces the project team.

Regional dialogues

From August 2013 to April 2014, ICAR and DIHR convened a series of 6 dialogues with over 240 experts and practitioners across stakeholder groups and world regions to gather inputs and recommendations in relation to the NAPs Project.  A briefing on the NAPs Project Dialogues can be found here.

Announcements of each of the Dialogue and summary reports that provide synopses of the key perspectives shared during each of the Dialogues can be found below. 

Dialogue participants’ responses will be reflected in the development of the NAPs Project Toolkit and Final Report, scheduled for release in June 2014. The NAPs Project Team extends its thanks to all co-organizers for each of the Dialogues, as well as to all Dialogue participants for sharing their insights and experiences.


To participate in the NAPs Project's e-consultation, please click here. The e-consultation questionnaire is divided into two parts: (a) scoping questions related to NAPs in general and (b) questions relating to the NAPs Toolkit. The aim of the e-consultation questionnaire is to gather information from stakeholders concerning their views regarding the role, development, and evaluation of NAPs. Targeted participants for the e-consultation include those stakeholders who were not able to participate in either the regional dialogues or bilateral consultations to date. The e-consultation questionnaire will be open for participation until 16 May 2014.



The NAPs Project’s final toolkit and report were released in June 2014 and are available here.

A list of 10 criteria for NAPs released concurrently is available here.

Interim report

ICAR and DIHR released an “Interim Briefing on the NAPs Project” during the Second Annual UN Forum on Business and Human Rights, which took place on 2-4 December 2013 in Geneva.

The interim briefing provides an overview of the State duty to protect against human rights violations under the UNGPs; lays out recent NAPs developments in Europe and the United States; and outlines the objectives, timeline, scope, and progress to date of the NAPs Project. The interim briefing is available here.

Updates on existing NAPs

As part of its final report, the NAPs Project will map out NAPs developments to date in countries around the world in order to facilitate knowledge-sharing  and awareness around States’ progress in carrying out NAPs processes. This section will provide updates on existing NAPs by providing links to these NAPs as they are publicly released. Please contact icar.dihr.[email protected] with updates on any NAPs progress not yet posted here or with any feedback on those NAPs already listed.

Denmark: "Danish National Action Plan March 2014 – implementation of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights", Danish Govt., Mar 2014

Finland: National Action Plan on business & human rights, Ministry of Employment & Economy (Finland), Oct 2014
- [Finnish] Työryhmän ehdotus YK:n yrityksiä ja ihmisoikeuksia koskevien ohjaavien periaatteiden kansalliseksi toimeenpanoksi, Apr 2014

Italy: Foundations of the Italian Action Plan on the United Nations "Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, Mar 2014
- [Italiano] Le Fondamenta del Piano di Azione Italiano sui "Principi Guida Delle Nazioni Unite Sulle Imprese e i Diritti Umani", Mar 2014

Netherlands:National Action Plan on business & human rights, 20 Dec 2013
- [Nederlands] Nationaal Actieplan bedrijfsleven en mensenrechten: Rapport over het Nederlandse beleid rondom de bevordering van eerbiediging van mensenrechten door het bedrijfsleven

Spain: [Español] Draft of National Action Plan on Business & Human Rights, 25 Nov 2013
- Process of developing national action plan

UK: National action plan to implement UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, 4 Sep 2013
Available in Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish

Other news

Global Civil Society Letter to Governments on the Development and Implementation of National Action Plans (NAPs) on Business and Human Rights, ICAR, ECCJ, CORE, CNCA, 1 May 2014

ICAR and DIHR participate as panelistsat UN Working Group's open consultation on National Action Plans (Geneva, 20 Feb 2014)

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