New guidance on how to include human rights defenders in National Action Plans on business & human rights

For human rights defenders to be able to safely work on business and human rights issues, both States and businesses must contribute to a safe and enabling environment for such work, whilst desisting from and sanctioning any actions that might restrict or threaten that environment. NAPs provide an important vehicle for the articulation and coordination of the law, policies, and actions required to foster and protect such an environment.


The Guiding Principles reinforce the State duty to protect by articulating how existing
international law should be applied in the realm of business and human rights. According to Principle 1, “States must protect against human rights abuse within their territory and
/or jurisdiction by third parties, including business enterprises. Given the increasing
prevalence of private corporations involved in violations against human rights defenders, it is thus crucial that States use NAPs to adopt laws and policies that enforce their specific
obligations to protect the rights of defenders
 The Declaration does not establish special rights for defenders but rather acknowledges that the roledefenders play, and the risks they face, require specific legislative and policy responses byStates to ensure that they can work in an environment where their rights are protected.

These rights include:
• The right to be protected (including the right to life);
• The right to freedom of assembly;
• The right to freedom of association;
• The right to access and communicate with international bodies;
• The right to freedom of opinion and expression;
• The right to protest;
•The right to develop and discuss new human rights ideas;
•The right to an effective remedy;
•The right to access funding.
In addition, according to the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders, there are nine main elements that States must provide for defenders to operate in a safe and enabling environment:
•Conducive legal, institutional, and administrative framework;
• Fight against impunity and for access to justice for violations against defenders;
• Strong, independent, and effective national human rights institutions;
• Effective protection policies and mechanisms, including public support for the work of
• Special attention for risks and challenges faced by women defenders and those
working on women’s rights and gender issues;
• Non-­‐State actors’ respect for and support of the work of defenders;
• Safe and open access to the UN and international human rights bodies;
• Strong, dynamic, and diverse communities of human right

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