Nepal launches milestone action plan on business and human rightsThe adoption sends a strong message to investors that Nepal is a good place to do business, stakeholders say.
The Nepal government has launched the National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights, a milestone in promoting responsible business and strengthening human rights standards in Nepal.
The action plan is a part of the government's strategy to promote economic development while safeguarding the rights of its citizens and the environment. With the launch of the programme, Nepal has become the second country in South Asia and the 41st globally to adopt such a strategic framework adopting human rights in business. The five-year plan will conclude in 2028.
Addressing the launching programme of the national action plan, Minister for Labour, Employment and Social Security Sharat Singh Bhandari said respect for human rights is a responsibility of not only the government but also the private sector.
“The private sector affects the daily life of every individual in Nepal,” Bhandari said. “For this reason, it is important to ensure that businesses respect human rights throughout their operations.”
The action plan is a result of a longstanding collaboration between the ministry and the UNDP in Nepal with support from the governments of Japan and Norway.
It was developed in alignment with national provisions and commitments to human rights, as well as international human rights standards like the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs)—the most authoritative and widely adopted set of principles for responsible business, unanimously endorsed by the UN Human Rights Council in 2011.
It outlines expectations and duties of the government and businesses in Nepal to respect, protect, and fulfil human rights through a comprehensive set of actions across six thematic areas—labour rights, migrant workers’ rights, consumer protection, environment and indigenous people’s rights, women and children’s rights, and non-discrimination, gender and social inclusion.
Speaking at the launch function, representatives from the Japanese embassy and UNDP said that there was a need for collaboration and coordination among stakeholders for successful implementation of the action plan.
“I hope that this National Action Plan will enhance standards and practices regarding business and human rights to achieve tangible results for affected individuals and communities, and thereby contributing to socially sustainable globalisation,” said Toshiyaki Endo, the first secretary at the Embassy of Japan in Kathmandu.
Also addressing the programme, Ayshanie Medagangoda-Labé, resident representative for UNDP Nepal, said the United Nations was committed to supporting the Nepal government in the implementation of the action plan.
“This milestone presents a clear opportunity for diverse stakeholders to come together to enhance responsible business through a collaborative process over the next five years,” she said.
The action plan, according to the UNDP, aims to support companies in managing human rights risks within their operations and supply chains, ensuring they are prepared for an accelerated global shift towards responsible business conduct.
Increasingly, leading global economies are taking actions to promote responsible supply chains—such as Japan government’s ‘Guidelines on Respecting Human Rights in Responsible Supply Chains’ and European Union’s ‘Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive’. The adoption of the action plan by the Nepal government sends a strong message to investors that Nepal is a good place to do business, stakeholders say.
Before embarking on the separate plan of action, the initiative was initially identified as one of the key actions under the national human rights action plan introduced by the Nepal government in 2020. As a follow-up intervention, the government has established a task force under the leadership of the labour ministry, including representatives from the Prime Minister's Office; the Ministry of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs; the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Supplies; and the Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industries.
This collaborative effort adopted a rigorous, participatory approach, including a series of consultation workshops, focus group discussions, validation, online feedback collection, thematic expert discussion, assessment and technical working group discussions to solicit feedback from businesses, civil society organisations, international experts, and others on drafts of the action plan to ensure its quality and effectiveness, according to the UNDP.