UK publishes updated National Action Plan on Business & Human Rights

UK NAPOn May 12th, 2016 the United Kingdom published its updated National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights, a new version of its original National Action Plan first published in 2013 after the 2011 publication of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs).  The updated plan details the UK Government’s ongoing steps and activities to support the implementation of the UNGPs, and is organized along the three pillar “Protect, Respect and Remedy” framework of the UNGPs.

The updated plan summarizes many of the relevant developments and events that have occurred internationally since the release of the UNGPs and the 2013 UK National Action Plan, including new initiatives concerning human rights reporting by businesses, the ranking of companies based on their human rights performance, and the International Code of Conduct Association’s emerging compliance mechanisms for private security providers.

Additionally, the new plan contains several topical case studies to illustrate legislation, events, reports, and project initiatives related to business and human rights, including the 2015 UK Modern Slavery Act and related guidance for companies on increased transparency in supply chains; the 2013 Rana Plaza disaster, where over 1100 people were killed; and the Nairobi Process, an initiative to integrate the UNGPs into the newly expanding extractives sector in Kenya.

The updated plan also provides UK Government actions related to managing private security company (PSC) and human rights risks, specifically regarding its activities supporting the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights and the newly released ISO 28007 maritime standard and ISO 18788 land standard for private security companies.  ANSI/ASIS PSC.1-2012, Management System for the Quality of Private Security Company Operations – Requirements with Guidance (PSC.1) is not, however, referenced in the UK’s original or updated National Action Plan.  This is interesting considering the reported UK Government’s 2013 statement conveying their intent to adopt the PSC.1 standard “for UK-based PSCs working in complex environments on land overseas.” One can only speculate that perhaps the UK Government views ISO 18788, which is based on PSC.1,  as the new standard for British overseas private security providers.

Numerous countries are in the process of developing and implementing similar National Action Plan efforts.  In addition to the United Kingdom, 7 other states (Colombia, Finland, Norway, Lithuania, Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark) have already written National Action Plans to demonstrate and map their efforts to implement their commitment to the UNGPs, and approximately 28 more are underway in the process.  The US Government’s National Action Plan is also under development and is expected to be released in the very near future.

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