The United Nations (UN) Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (GPs), which were endorsed by the Human Rights Council (HRC) in June 2011, are built on three pillars: states’ duty to protect human rights, corporate responsibility to respect human rights, and access to effective remedies. All three pillars of the GPs – especially Pillar 1 and Pillar 3 – require states to take a number of measures to ensure that business enterprises do not violate human rights and that effective remedies are available in cases of violation.
The UN Working Group on the issue of human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises (UNWG) ‘strongly encourages all states to develop, enact and update’ a national action plan (NAP) on business and human rights (BHR) as part of states’ responsibility to disseminate and implement the GPs. In June 2014, the HRC passed a resolution calling upon states to develop NAPs. As of 29 February 2016, ten states have drawn up NAPs, while several others are in the process of doing so.
Against this background, this paper examines two broad questions: first, whether India needs a BHR framework at the national level to implement the GPs; second, assuming that such a framework is needed, what the content of such a framework should be and what principles should be followed to make the process transparent, inclusive and legitimate.