human rights & business (and a few other things)

Conference – Spain’s First National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights


It is a pleasure to welcome Carmen Márquez Carrasco and Laura Íñigo Álvarez on Rights as Usual. Carmen Márquez Carrasco is Professor of Public International Law and International Relations at the University of Seville. Her research focuses on business and human rights, the interactions between IHL and human rights, and the EU and human rights. Laura Íñigo Álvarez is a PhD candidate in International Law at the University of Seville and Utrecht University. Her research focuses on IHL, accountability, and non-state actors. This post is theirs.


On 14-15 June 2018, the University of Seville, under the direction of Professor Márquez Carrasco, will hold a conference on the first Spanish Action Plan on Business and Human Rights . The Spanish Action Plan on Business and Human Rights was adopted on 28 July 2017 by the Council of Ministers of the Government of Spain three years after the plan was first drafted. Spain becomes the 14th country approving a National Action Plan (NAP) on this issue.

Potential of the National Action Plan

 The NAP represents the Spanish model of implementation of the UN Guiding Principles on business and human rights, which has been also promoted within the framework of the European Union. This first plan has limitations but also potentialities that can be strengthened through its effective implementation. We can highlight three positive effects of the NAP. First, it can help to overcome the differences in access and power that often prevent those who are negatively affected by the activity of corporations from demanding a place at the negotiating table. Secondly, this instrument can contribute to creating a dialogue between all areas of government and could give impetus to new ideas within different government sectors that consider the issue of business and human rights to be of little relevance. Third, the NAP can assist in the creation of a progressive agenda for the protection and promotion of human rights. By generating public accountability incorporating benchmarks in the processes, and ultimately pointing to specific measures, the Spanish NAP establishes a framework of reference to assess progress in the implementation of the obligation to protect human rights against business operations.

What is the conference about?

At the conference, experts in the field will analyse and discuss the challenges and opportunities that the NAP poses to Spain, its public administrations, businesses, civil society and citizens. The aim of this conference is to assess the implementation of the plan and formulate proposals for its improvement. The keynote speech will be given by Mr. Juan Ignacio Morro Villacián, General Director of the UN and Human Rights at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Spain. The first day will be dedicated to the follow-up of the NAP; its relationship with the SDGs; environmental issues; business operations in conflict situations; judicial and non-judicial remedies; and gender issues. The second day will deal with the NAP and public procurement; lessons learned at the European level; and some experiences presented by corporations themselves. The event will conclude with the closing speech of Mr. Mikel Mancisidor de la Fuente, member of the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and Rapporteur for the General Observation on Science and Human Rights.

More information about the event (only in Spanish) can be found here.

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