National Action Plans (NAPs) are basically an evolving policy strategy developed by a state to protect against adverse human rights impact by the business enterprise in conformity with the UN guiding principles on business and human rights.
Naps if implemented, raise awareness and mobilize action both internally and externally while also setting up measurable and achievable targets for a country to achieve.
The Kenya NAP process timeline
Kenya is the first African country to come up with a draft of National Action Plans around Business and Human rights. Its development process was led by the government through the State Law Office and Department of Justice with support from the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights.
Kenya accepted recommendations to develop a national action plan to implement the UNGPs in January 2015, in October the same year the office of the Attorney General developed a concept paper highlighting business and Human Rights challenges facing the country.
IN April 2016, Kenya officially committed to developing a National Action plan that reflects the issues of priority to business and human rights in the country and a steering committee was formed to spearhead the process.
However, not much has been done to move the National Action Plan Forward.
In 2019, BAKE representatives attended a Washington DC training by GDP/Internews and later in April 2019 officially started the national advocacy on the National Action Plan where it hosted CSOs and SMEs for a workshop to create awareness on the NAPs.
later in the year, the Attorney general published the final NAP document that has since been waiting for approval by the Cabinet and adoption by the parliament.
The slowed process has resulted in key issues especially around privacy that are of concern to companies that have been misusing personal data because we lack proper policies that protect the consumers.
Despite legal protections, there lacks clarity in the relevance of human rights for businesses. As such, we launched the #NAPKenya compaign to foster a speedy process in the implementation of the Naps.
Why we need to champion for the implementation of the Naps?
The Naps is aligned to Kenya’s vision 2030 and the SDGs for policy coherence and integration. It links each of the identified themes and the cross-cutting issues to the corresponding SDGs.
They also consolidate the exisistinmg efforts geered towards the protection and fulfilment of human rights by both state and not state actors.
The current draft has no reference to human rights in the context of technology developloment and use which should recognize the role of tech in business and its impact on human rights especially data privacy in the age of AI, automation among others.
The naps are responsible for guiding businesses on the measures they should undertake to meet their responsibility to respect human rights in their operations.
They offer a roadmap of strengthening access to State-based judicial and non-judicial remedies for victims of business-related harm and to promote human rights due diligence by businesses, ensuring that they play their role in the attainment of SDGs #
The National Action plan forms a basis for dialogue between the State, businesses, individuals and communities whose rights are adversely impacted by business operations, and CSOs on promoting respect for human rights by businesses.
Challenges around the implementation of National Action plans in Kenya
The major challenges in the adoption of the NAPs is the frustratingly slow government processes that have created bottlenecks on the project. Since 2019 when the NAP was presented to the cabinet for approval, nothing has been done two years later.
The Covid-19 pandemic in the country in early 2020 has also been a major blockage in taking the project forward. Most projects were stalled as the government gave priority to the current emergencies and projects that need quick adoption.
Lack of understanding of human rights issues by some SMEs has as well created a barrier in the implementation of the NAPs. Their interpretation of business human rights has been interpreted to mean confrontation with the government.
Despite legal protections, the community consultations conducted as part of the NAP revealed structural and procedural barriers to access to remedy. Some include; high litigation costs, limited physical access to courts & a low rate of prosecution against directors.
To comment on the conversations, follow the hashtag #NapKenya and #DigitalRightsKE and see how the conversations went down.