Press Release

Belgium has a new national action plan for business and human rights 2024-2029

On the proposal of Federal Minister for Sustainable Development Zakia Khattabi and Minister for Foreign Affairs Hadja Lahbib, the Council of Ministers on Friday 5 April approved the new national action plan for business and human rights for the period 2024-2029. The implementation of this plan applies on the one hand to Belgian companies operating in Belgium and/or abroad, and on the other hand to international companies operating within our country. With its "mirror clause" approach, this ambitious plan aims to engage and support companies in respecting and promoting human rights.

In 2011, the UN Human Rights Council adopted the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. These were developed to raise awareness of the negative impact of companies and business activities on human rights and provide appropriate remedies, as well as to clarify the roles and responsibilities of states and companies with regard to human rights impacts. To implement these Guiding Principles, the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights called on all UN member states to develop and implement a National Action Plan (NAP) on Business and Human Rights. Belgium had already adopted a first NAP on the subject in 2017. In March 2021, the federal and regional governments, in the framework of the Foreign Policy Coordination Committee, decided to draft a second National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights, based on the results of the first Belgian National Baseline Assessment (NBA) launched in 2019 and completed by the end of 2020.

Zakia Khattabi: "This plan was drafted according to the three pillars of the United Nations Principles: protect, respect and remedy. I would have liked it to have gone a little further, but I welcome this important step forward, which will help mitigate the negative impact of Belgian companies and foreign companies operating in our country on human rights and the environment, throughout the value chain. Integrating sustainability and respect for human rights go hand in hand to build an economy worthy of the 21st century!"

The plan includes measures from the previous plan as well as policies implemented during this legislature, such as measures related to due diligence (sectoral learning networks and a guide for SMEs) initiated by Zakia Khattabi, as well as new measures to oblige and encourage companies to respect human rights.