Centre for Business & Human Rights

National Action Plan (NAP)

India has formally recognised the UNGP framework in the National Voluntary Guidelines on Social, Environment and Economic Responsibilities of Business (2011 NVGs) issued by the Ministry of Corporate Affairs, Government of India (MCA) in 2011. Now, in 2018 with a view to align the 2011 NVGs with the UNGPs and incorporate other developments in the field of business responsibility and the sustainable development agenda, the MCA has revised the 2011 NVGs and has issued the National Guidelines on Responsible Business Conduct.

In June 2011, the UNHRC endorsed by consensus the UNGPs. These principles are the outcome of six years of consultative process, involving States, businesses and civil society. The UNGPs elucidate the duties and responsibilities of the State and businesses in addressing adverse business-related human rights impacts. Spread across 31 foundational and operational principles, the UNGPs are broadly based on three pillars:

Pillar I - The State Duty to Protect Human Rights.

Pillar II - The Corporate Responsibility to Respect Human Rights.

Pillar III - Access to Remedy.

The objective of the UNGPs is to enhance standards and practices with regard to business and human rights to achieve tangible results for affected individuals and communities, and thereby contribute to a socially sustainable globalization. While the UNGPs do not create new legal obligations, they clarify and elaborate on the implications of relevant provisions of existing international human rights standards.

In June 2014, the UNHRC called upon its member States to develop a National Action Plan to promote the effective implementation of the UNGPs. As will be demonstrated in the succeeding sections, the Government of India has been undertaking measures even prior to the UNGPs, encouraging businesses to contribute towards the interests of the society at large. As such, India has been committed to achieving the objectives envisaged under the UNGPs even prior to its formulation.

National Action Plan for India - Process

This National Action Plan reaffirms India’s commitments towards realization of human rights and promotion of socially responsible businesses. It provides an overview of India’s legal framework setting out the State’s duty to protect human rights, the corporate responsibility to respect human rights and access to remedy against business-related human rights violations. Key policy measures adopted by the Government of India in this regard have also been discussed herein.

In 2018, MCA organized several meetings / multi-stakeholder consultations with relevant Ministries of the Government of India, National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), domain experts and other relevant stakeholders, including representatives from industry associations where issues pertaining to business and human rights were deliberated upon. These also included regional consultations held in Kolkata, Mumbai, Bengaluru and New Delhi. During some of these consultations, MCA also apprised the participants of the National Action Plan under the UNGPs and sought active Ministerial participation to develop and finalize India’s National Action Plan. Amongst other things, these consultations involved discussions on the following key issues -

Evolution of business and human rights deliberations in India post endorsement of the UNGPs by the UNHRC.

Existing framework on business and human rights in India, including initiatives under the Companies Act, 2013 and
the 2019 NGRBC.

Preparation of the National Action Plan in India in consultation with relevant stakeholders.

Promotion of the concept of corporate responsibility to respect human rights.

2019 NGRBC that seek to align itself to the UNGPs.

The similarities between the 2019 NGRBC, UNGP and SDGs.

Incentivizing corporates to comply with the 2019 NGRBC that are based on the UNGP framework.

Further, issues pertaining to business responsibility reporting framework of SEBI, whistleblowing and protection of
whistleblowers, non-financial reporting framework, harassment of women at work place, fair wages, etc. were
also discussed.

Furthermore, a draft of this National Action Plan was also shared with relevant Ministries and other government bodies such as NHRC with a view to get their inputs / comments on the same. This National Action Plan takes into consideration the issues that were discussed during the aforesaid multi-stakeholder consultations and the comments / inputs of relevant Ministries and government bodies. Based on the review of the UNGPs and commentary to the same, certain thematic issues have been identified for the purposes of this National Action Plan to understand the Indian framework insofar as it is relevant to the UNGPs.

Based on the above a Zero Draft has been prepared through this India seeks to demonstrate its commitment towards the UNGP framework and preparation of the National Action Plan. For India, the preparation of the NAP will require a dialogue and engagement with all Ministries / Departments of Government of India, State Governments and relevant stakeholders. This Zero draft kickstarts the process of preparation of the NAP.

1. UNHRC, ‘Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights’, (2011), https://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Publications/GuidingPrinciplesBusinessHR_EN.pdf, accessed on 27 October, 2018.

2. A/HRC/26/L.1.

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