Governments need to do more to help businesses understand, mitigate and improve their human rights impacts by strengthening transparency and reporting requirements, according to a report by the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI).

The Strengthening business accountability in the NAPs on Business and Human Rights report looked at the progress countries have made towards meeting their duty under the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights by analysing the 23 National Action Plans (NAPs) produced by governments so far.

GRI presented a number of recommendations for governments to improve their NAPs:

  • Providing requirements for businesses to disclose their human rights impacts, with legislation on human rights due diligence.
  • Specifying that companies need to identify and manage all human rights impacts, and demonstrating they have effective measures to address them.
  • Setting measurable and realistic national targets on increasing the number of businesses that report human rights impacts.
  • Making use of the human rights data produced in corporate sustainability reporting, as supported by the GRI Standards, to highlight challenges and assess progress.

GRI’s chief external affairs officer said: “The UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights are a route map for countries to protect individuals against human rights abuses. Yet without accountability and effective reporting we will fail to secure the urgent progress required.

“GRI’s analysis of the NAPs found wide divergence in how countries set out expectations and provide support to help businesses disclose and manage human rights impacts. I encourage all countries to reflect on our recommendations, whether they’re updating their NAPs or developing a plan for the first time.

“Human rights are an important thread throughout the GRI Standards, which provide a cornerstone for any company seeking to be transparent about their impacts, addressing the full range of human rights related risks.”

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