National action plan on business and human rights

'Human rights are under pressure in many places in the world. At the same time, companies that integrate respect for human rights, anti-corruption measures and environmental considerations into their operations are more profitable in the long run. I am therefore pleased to launch a national action plan on business and human rights,' said Minister of Foreign Affairs Børge Brende.

The UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights have, in the space of a short period of time, become an important international standard for how companies should respect human rights throughout their operations. As part of its work to intensify Norway's efforts to promote human rights, the Government is now launching the national action plan to follow up the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.

'The action plan will make it easier for the business sector to use the UN Guiding Principles. It sets out the Norwegian authorities' expectations of Norwegian companies, and makes clear what support and advice companies are entitled to from the Norwegian authorities,' said Mr Brende.

'The Government and the business sector have a common interest in ensuring that Norwegian companies are able to carry out and further develop their international operations in accordance with recognised international norms,' said Mr Brende.

In the action plan, the Government proposes a range of actions to be taken, including the following:

  • Ensure greater policy coherence and expertise on corporate social responsibility in the public administration;
  • Consider pooling the resources of several actors that currently advise companies on corporate social responsibility by establishing a single advisory centre;
  • Include respect for internationally recognised human rights in public contracts;
  • Seek to ensure that provisions on respect for human rights, including on safeguarding labour rights and working conditions, are included in bilateral free trade agreements and investment treaties;
  • Give priority to framework conditions, institution building and the development of adequate legislation to ensure that human rights are respected in priority countries for receiving Norwegian development aid;
  • Seek to ensure, through international cooperation, that victims of grave and systematic human rights violations have access to effective appeals procedures; and
  • Support the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in its work to strengthen national legal systems.

The action plan follows up the Government's recent white paper on human rights, Opportunities for All: Human Rights in Norway's Foreign Policy and Development Cooperation.