National Action Plan


Ireland 2017 - 2020
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View the National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights


Main Coordinating Authority

Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

Drafting Process

The National Action Plan was developed over a period of three years, beginning with a government decision in June 2014. To ensure a “whole of government” approach, an interdepartmental committee was also established. Over the development period submissions were sought and a number of consultations with stakeholders took place, including an NGO forum, workshop with business and civil society representatives, and a consultation on a draft working outline.

Following the working outline further submissions were sought from stakeholders and a draft version was developed. A consultation with other Government departments and agencies followed and the final plan was adopted by the Government and subsequently published in 2017. 

National Baseline Assessment: The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade commissioned an independent consultancy to research and draft the baseline study, on the basis of a key commitment in the National Plan. The final version of the study was published in March 2019 and is accessible here.


Main Priorities / Focus areas in the Action Plan and expected outcomes

Pillar I - State Duty to Protect

  1. Develop a practical toolkit on business and human rights for public and private entities to assist them in their human rights due diligence.
  2. Ensure that relevant public servants are made aware of their obligation to report suspected cases of bribery under the OECD Convention on Foreign Bribery.
  3. Encourage and support awareness of effective human rights due diligence by State owned or controlled companies.
  4. Encourage and support effective human rights due diligence in the context of state support to business and NGOs.
  5. Encourage civil society and business representative bodies to engage with the United Nations Forum on Business and Human Rights.
  6. Provide clarity to relevant stakeholders on the applicable Irish law, reporting channels and protections for whistleblowers/protected disclosures.
  7. Promote awareness of relevant multi-stakeholder and multilateral initiatives such as the UN Global Compact, the Principles for Responsible Investment and the Children’s Rights and Business Principles among State owned or controlled companies.

Pillar II: Corporate Responsibility to Respect

  1. Encourage business representative bodies to provide examples, templates and case studies to help support companies in their efforts to develop human rights focused policies and reporting initiatives.
  2. Encourage companies and NGOs funded by the State to carry out human rights due diligence as appropriate to their size, the nature and context of operations and the severity of the risk of adverse human rights impacts.
  3. Encourage engagement with human rights reporting standards, such as the UN Guiding Principles Reporting Framework, the Global Reporting Initiative or the Business Working Responsibly Mark.
  4. Encourage and facilitate the sharing of best practice on human rights due diligence, including effective supply chain audits.
  5. Create a fact sheet on the OECD anti-Bribery Convention, the criminal offences in Irish law on bribery, the reporting systems in place for reporting suspicions of foreign corruption and the protections provided by the Protected Disclosures Act; to be distributed by Enterprise Ireland to all Irish companies engaged in trade missions.

Pillar III: Access to Remedy

  1. Engage with business representative bodies to promote and strengthen mediation as a viable option when businesses and their stakeholders are engaged in disputes.
  2. Introduce a standing agenda item to explore international best practice and principles governing the development of operational level grievance mechanisms for individuals and communities who may be adversely impacted to make it possible for grievances to be addressed early and remediated directly.
  3. Review how best to ensure remedy for potential victims overseas of human rights abuses by Irish companies, with a focus on barriers to justice, including legal, procedural or financial barriers.

Review and Monitoring

The Business and Human Rights Implementation Group, an independently chaired body, was established in 2018 with the aim of taking forward the delivery of key action points under the NAP. The group comprises representatives of civil society, the business community and Government departments. It is envisaged that the group will review specific issues relating to business and human rights, including the impact of business activity on vulnerable groups.

The Group has met twice since its establishment in 2018 and will be meeting biannually for the following three years. The group will be further divided into three sub-groups, tasked with reviewing issues and delivering action points under the Three Pillars of the UN Guiding Principles.

In addition to the plenary meetings of the implementation group, a Business and Human Rights Forum will be held two years following the launch of the NAP.