It is important for businesses to do business by respecting human rights
In June of 2011, The United Nations adopted a “Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights: Implementing the United Nations ‘Protect, Respect and Remedy’ Framework”, a document that provided a guideline through which businesses could practice their craft without having to violate fundamental human rights and freedoms. This is because human rights are basic rights and freedoms that are based on dignity, fairness, equality and respect. It is therefore paramount for companies to ensure that they respect rights such as the right to privacy and generally treat their customers with dignity and respect in all their undertakings.
It is in the support of the United Nation’s championing for businesses to obey human rights and freedom that the government of Kenya came up with The National Action Plan (NAP). which is a policy document that outlines expectation for companies to respect human rights wherever they operate.
The development of a NAP presents a government with the opportunity to review the extent of its implementation of business and human rights frameworks, including the UNGPs, at the national level and then to identify gaps and reforms to increase coherence with the government’s human rights commitments across business-related legal and policy frameworks and programs.
The Kenyan National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights (NAP) process was formally launched by the Attorney General on February 9, 2016. On the 24 July 2019, the Attorney General published a NAP draft which is in line with UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGP), which if passed and finally implemented, will allow the businesses to abide by the UNGP. Most importantly, the finalization of the NAP as a policy document worthy of implementation will allow for the State to fully implement the UNGP, which requires of states to:
- Protect against human rights abuse within their territory
and/or jurisdiction by third parties, including business enterprises. This
requires taking appropriate steps to prevent, investigate, punish and
redress such abuse through effective policies, legislation, regulations
- Set out clearly the expectation that all business enterprises
domiciled in their territory and/or jurisdiction respect human rights
throughout their operations.
- Enforce laws that are aimed at, or have the effect of, requiring
business enterprises to respect human rights.
- Take additional steps to protect against human rights
abuses by business enterprises that are owned or controlled by the
State, or that receive substantial support and services from State
agencies such as export credit agencies and official investment
insurance or guarantee agencies, including, where appropriate, by
requiring human rights due diligence.
- Exercise adequate oversight in order to meet their
international human rights obligations when they contract with, or
legislate for, business enterprises to provide services that may impact
upon the enjoyment of human rights.
Among several other guidelines. As it stands however, the NAP has been on the drafting stage since 2016, where the office of the Attorney General doesn’t seem interested with moving with the NAP forward. This inaction is not just making it hard for businesses to abide by the United Nations Guiding Principles on Human Rights, but is also blocking local businesses from being part of the International community whose business culture is already human rights centric. Businesses have also not been made aware of the importance of operating under the guidance of the UNGP, so there are those who are violating human rights out of ignorance.