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21 March



Where are Indigenous Peoples in National Action Plans on Business and Human Rights?

Image by Art Lasovsky

In 2016, the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights mandated to promote the effective and comprehensive implementation of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs) noted National Action Plans (NAPs) as potential important means to promote the implementation of the UNGPs. Since then, a number of States worldwide have developed or are developing NAPs while there are also non-State initiatives in a number of countries. In South Asia, Pakistan has become the first country to develop a NAP while the governments in India and Nepal are also reportedly developing NAPs.


While governments in many countries have touted developing a NAP as a significant step in implementing its obligations under the UNGPs, indigenous peoples and other marginalized groups are often left out of the process of developing such a document. On the other hand, indigenous communities continue to face significant impacts on their rights in the context of business operations. Ideally, indigenous peoples and other marginalized groups should be at the center of the process to develop a NAP and in the outcomes of the NAP towards greater respect for their rights.


Despite no specific engagement of Indigenous Peoples in the development of NAP in Pakistan, the experience of marginalized groups in engaging with the NAP process and outcomes would be useful for indigenous peoples and other marginalized groups in other countries in the region to learn from. It would be particularly relevant and timely for indigenous peoples in India and Nepal as there are significant indigenous populations in the country (although the government in India does not consider Adivasi as “indigenous peoples” in line with international law) that face significant impacts in the contexts of business operations.


Thus, this side event aims to promote such cross-learning among representatives of indigenous peoples and other marginalized groups from Pakistan, India and Nepal as well as other countries attending the Forum and beyond so as to respond to the following questions:

  1. What constitutes an enabling environment to ensure a safe and effective engagement of Indigenous Peoples and other marginalized communities in the process of developing NAP?

  2. What has been the lessons learned of Indigenous Peoples and other marginalized groups from their engagement or participation in the NAP development process? (If there was no space for engagement or participation) how should Indigenous Peoples and marginalized groups ensure their effective participation to the NAP development process?

  3. How can NAPs respond to ensuring the rights of indigenous peoples and other marginalized groups in business and other contexts?   



The side event will be in the format of a moderated panel discussion. A representative from an organization working with marginalized groups in Pakistan will first share their experiences of engaging in the NAP development process or the challenges thereof. S/he will also inform the side event about the positive and negative aspects of the NAP. Then, indigenous representatives from India and Nepal will share their experiences of engaging in the processes of developing NAPs in their countries so far, or the challenges thereof. All the panelists will then provide their recommendations for their governments with regards to the NAPs. An open floor discussion will follow till the end of the event.

Organizing Partners

  • Community Empowerment and Social Justice Network (CEMSOJ)

  • Lawyers Association for Human Rights of Nepalese Indigenous Peoples (LAHURNIP)

  • Indigenous Peoples Rights International

  • Indigenous Rights Advocacy Centre


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