5/10/2016- Irish National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights to be published in first quarter of 2017 Print

In response to a parliamentary question presented by Seán Crowe T.D., the Government have finally given a timeline for the production of the first National Action Plan on business and human rights. As some might remember, it was first indicated that the Government would be preparing a National Action Plan in 2013/14 - for a full timeline see Dr Shane Darcy's excellent blog, and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Annual NGO Forum on Human Rights put together a great line-up of speakers on business and human rights in November 2014. In December of the following year, a Working Outline of the National Action Plan was produced, which I analysed in a guest post on Shane Darcy's blog here. A day of consultations was held in January 2016, and submission on the Working Outline were invited. Since then, observers have become increasingly frustrated by the lack of progress on the production of the Plan, and a couple of parliamentary questions on the matter received rather vague responses.

It is therefore very welcome that the Government have now declared that they intend to produce a National Action Plan within the first quarter of 2017. However, the lengthy delays associated with the process are not encouraging. The Working Outline was notable for a series of processes which it would put in place to further the business and human rights agenda - a baseline assessment of the legal and regulatory framework, a Business and Human Rights Implementation Group, a biannual forum on Business and Human Rights. All of these would be most welcome if they functioned effectively - but the concern is that they will be attended with the same delays which have characterised the drafting of the Plan itself.