Manushya & Human Rights Advocates call on countries to #StopNAPping at #UNForumBHR 2022!
Emilie Palamy Pradichit & human rights advocates from around the world called countries to #StopNAPping at #UNForumBHR 2022!
🗣️ Manushya Foundation, PODER, Business and Human Rights Resource Centre (BHRRC) and International Service for Human Rights (ISHR) co-organized a joint side event: "UN Guiding Principles and National Action Plans: A Remedy for Victims and Human Rights Defenders?" during the 11th UN Forum on Business & Human Rights in Geneva!
The session aimed to review the implementation of the National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights (NAP-BHR). First, what is a NAP-BHR❓
A NAP is defined as an "evolving policy strategy developed by a State to protect against adverse human rights impacts by business enterprises in conformity with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs)".
A NAP-BHR shall be a 'smart-mix' of mandatory, voluntary and international measures that are needed to effectively foster business respect for human rights.
❗ In reality, NAPs do not meet these requirements, and they resulted as ineffective tools not bringing real corporate accountability on the ground.
That's why experts on NAP-BHR from all around the world joined the panel to discuss the lack of effectiveness of voluntary measures to ensure real corporate accountability. The panelists were debating Mexico's and Thailand's weak NAP-BHRs and Japan's voluntary human rights due diligence guidelines and analyzed the EU's Corporate Sustainability Impact Assessment Directive.
Emilie Palamy Pradichit, Manushya's Founder and Executive Director exposed the real story behind the failures of Thailand’s NAP:
✔️ Inclusive engagement of local communities at the beginning of the NAP process that kicked-off in 2017: Manushya Foundation and the Thai BHR Network ensured an intersectional meaningful engagement of communities, such as farmers, feminists, the LGBTQI+ community, migrant workers, labour unions, environmental activists, indigenous peoples and sex workers, in the NAP development process hoping the NAP would bring changes on the ground, and guarantee businesses respect human rights.
❌ #Whitewashing of the NAP process: The inclusive engagement of communities was captured by the Thai government to tell lies at the global level, at the United Nations: Manushya Foundation, the Thai BHR Network and communities were used by the Thai government to promote a false narrative, pretending to have greatly engaged with communities on its own, while not including the extensive comments provided by civil society in the First NAP-BHR released in 2019.
❌ #Greenwashing: The NAP-BHR is not a ‘smart mix’ of mandatory and voluntary measures: it is only a workplan for meetings with voluntary measures not bringing any change.
❌ The NAP excludes the rights of indigenous peoples and sex workers.
❌ The NAP does not include mandatory human rights due diligence and an effective anti-SLAPP law protecting human rights defenders.
Emilie emphasized the devastating reality, that SLAPP cases are ongoing with companies trying to silence human rights defenders and due to the experiences of not being heard regardless of their engagement, civil society lost interest in working with the government again. She concluded that nobody wants NAPs anymore!
“People don’t want NAPs anymore. If you’re a community member who keeps coming to meetings, shares how your father was killed or that you’re unfairly criminalized by corporations, and in the end of the day, you have a NAP that doesn’t bring any change on the ground; would you want another NAP? NO.”
Emilie Palamy Pradichit, Founder and Executive Director of Manushya Foundation
✊ For all these reasons, Emilie called on countries to stop #StopNAPping but to enact mandatory human rights and environmental due diligence (mHREDD) to guarantee real corporate accountability!
Ivette Gonzalez, PODER’s Advocacy Campaigns Director shared a similar experience about the Mexican government's failure to develop a NAP-BHR:
✔️ High engagement of civil society in the NAP process that kicked-off in 2015
❌ In July 2017, civil society groups formally disengaged from the process: they were disappointed by the draft not aligning with their comprehensive contributions and recommendations made over two years.
In addition to the development process, Ivette also criticized the content:
❌ Weak Draft: the outcomes of the published NAP did not meet basic international human rights standards:
Key issues such as access to justice and access to remedy were not addressed.
No measures were identified to ensure transparency in the corporate sector.
No protection mechanisms for human rights defenders, journalists or whistleblowers were established.
The rights of indigenous peoples have not been addressed.
No guidelines for state-owned enterprises to respect human rights.
❗ Only this year, in 2022, the Mexican government is attempting to revive the development of its first-ever NAP-BHR.
🗣️ Ivette does not consider the Mexican NAP as a guide to follow to comply with international human rights standards!
Sharing her experience of the ‘Mexico Scenario’ and the country’s failed attempt to develop a NAP-BHR, Ivette concluded:
“If the NAP is just focussed on awareness-raising and capacity building for companies, that’s another thing. Let’s not call it a NAP! This is why civil society formally disengaged from the NAP process in Mexico. It is because that process didn’t comply with the most basic international standards and didn’t adequately address the key issues that we had mentioned several times, such as improving access to justice and remedy for communities affected by business activities.”
Misa Norigami, BHRRC’s Japan Researcher & Representative, criticized Japan’s voluntary Human Rights Due Diligence (HRDD) Guidelines:
❌ No details on the guideline's content were released before the draft was published in August 2022.
❌ The time between the draft (August 2022) and the final version (September 2022) was too short to consider and incorporate a large number of received comments.
👉 The public had only one month to submit public comments. It is likely that the comments were not considered in the final guidelines!
❌ Thin content:
No mechanism for putting the guidelines into practice.
Insufficient guidance on access to remedies.
Excludes the environmental due diligence process.
❌ Language barrier: HRDD guidelines are published only in Japanese, while subsidiaries and affected communities along the supply chain do not speak Japanese.
✊ Misa believes the Japanese government should have provided more guidance to the corporate sector and also calls for the implementation of mandatory human rights and environmental due diligence!
Sarah Brooks, ISHR’s Programme Director, shared about the EU Directive on Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence:
✔️ Big steps for corporate accountability:
The corporate sector will have to commit to its human rights due diligence obligations
Corporations will be held accountable in the case of non-compliance with their human rights due diligence obligations
Victims of human rights violations will have easier access to remedy
Companies in tech or financial sector need to be included in-scope as well.
Companies need to uphold issues of intersectionality, apply a gender lens throughout their supply chains, and include environmental due diligence.
✊ Sarah hopes that the European Union will apply the EU Directive upstream and downstream of the value chain, and not just upstream.
Why ❓ Because it is also important to hold any invested capital accountable for ensuring human rights standards are respected globally!
Fernanda Hopenhaym, Chairperson of the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights provided insightful Closing Reflections:
👉 She clarified that there is no obligation for anyone to implement the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs) mainly through NAPs!
🤝 She reminded that UN Member States are obliged to protect and guarantee human rights for all, in line with their already existing international human rights obligations.
👉 She stressed that the corporate sector has the responsibility to respect human rights; and the UNGPs emphasize clearly what corporations must do: the UNGPs provide guidance for human rights due diligence, access to remedy and justice components.
“There is nothing in our mandate that obliges us or anybody else to develop NAPs. Our mandate is to promote the implementation of the UN Guiding Principles as the global standard that clarifies the obligations of States that are already there, nothing new. States are obliged to protect and guarantee human rights for all and the UNGPs clarify that with regard to business activities, but impose no new obligations. Though they do stress very clearly that companies have the responsibility to respect human rights and provide guidance for due diligence and, of course, the access to remedy and justice component.”
Fernanda Hopenhaym, Chairperson, UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights
Watch the full panel on Youtube:
#WeAreManushyan – Equal Human Beings
🔗 While you’re here, read more about our advocacy during the #UNForumBHR 2022, our work fighting for real corporate accountability:
#Stop-NAPping: Thailand: What is a NAP-BHR & Why We Don’t Want It?, 7 October 2022
Read our UPR Factsheet People and Planet over Profit, 13 September 2021
Read our Joint Comments to the Final Draft National Action Plan (NAP) on Business and Human Rights (BHR), June 2019
Read our BHR Assessment Chapters: Independent CSO National Baseline Assessment (NBA) On Business & Human Rights, March 2019