UNDP has announced the results of a National Baseline Assessment on Business and Human Rights conducted in Kazakhstan

June 30, 2023
Photo: UNDP Kazakhstan

The first results of the project "Business and Human Rights", currently underway in Kazakhstan, have been revealed. This initiative aims to strengthen the protection of citizens' rights by introducing the so-called “UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights”. The conclusions of the National Baseline Assessment on Business and Human Rights were presented during the round table in Astana.

Kazakhstani companies are encouraged to develop, adopt, and implement distinct Human rights policies. Other recommendations include adopting legislation to grant the right to receive cash benefits during maternity leave for self-employed individuals as well as adopting labour legislation to address sexual harassment in the workplace.

The "Business and Human Rights” project is part of a global initiative led by UNDP and the Government of Japan, aimed at promoting responsible business standards and is currently being implemented in 17 countries.

Mentioned Guiding Principles were unanimously approved by the UN Human Rights Council in 2011 and encompass a set of recommendations and rules for both states and companies to adopt the "Protect - Respect - Remedy" framework.

Grounded in three key elements, the principles emphasize the state's duty to protect human rights, corporate responsibility in upholding human rights, and access to legal remedies in case of violations.

The UN Human Rights Council has issued a call to all Member States, urging them to formulate National Action Plans on Business and Human Rights (NAPs) as a strategic approach to realizing the UN Guiding Principles.

Several prominent global economies, including the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Norway, and others, have embraced legislation on the engagement of businesses in relation to human rights. These laws mandate the identification, prevention, and consideration of potential negative impact arising from business activities on human rights.


"Japan is one of the first countries to adopt a National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights. In addition, Japan has developed and implemented a General Guideline on Respect for Human Rights not only by companies themselves but also by enterprises in their supply chains, which strengthens the policy of responsible business conduct at all levels. We are convinced that this practice will also take place in Kazakhstan,” 
said Ainur Baimyrza, Head of Governance Unit, UNDP Kazakhstan.

Prior to making any decisions regarding the scope, content, and priorities of the NAP, a National Baseline Assessment on Business and Human Rights (NBA) is conducted. 

The primary objective of this study is to evaluate the current level of UN Guiding Principles' implementation in a specific state. The assessment combines an analysis of legal and policy gaps in implementing the principles with an examination of the negative impact of business on human rights, thereby identifying the most significant human rights issues in this context.

Tatiana Zinovich, Acting Director of the Legal Policy Research Center, presented the results of the first National Baseline Assessment conducted in Kazakhstan.

"We employed various methodologies, including desk analysis and field research, which encompassed six interviews and four focus groups with representatives from government agencies, businesses, and civil society. Additionally, an online survey was conducted involving 278 enterprises to analyze their business practices. Furthermore, we screened and monitored 60 company websites to assess the extent to which the UN Guiding Principles were incorporated into their business policies, utilizing the Corporate Human Rights Benchmark methodology,"
said Tatiana Zinovich.

The study revealed numerous deficiencies in existing corporate policies and national legislations concerning the safeguarding of human rights, as well as helped put forward some suggestions regarding their elimination.

Overall, UN experts have formulated over 20 distinct recommendations pertaining to three fundamental domains of UN Guiding Principles implementation.

Apart from developing and adopting a National Action Plan on Buisness and Human Rights, the recommendations include:

  • Ratification of the Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrants, Workers, and Members of Their Families, as well as the 2014 Protocol to the Convention on Forced Labor of 1930.

  • Implementation of the recommendations by the Committee on the Application of ILO Standards, ensuring thorough investigations into violence against trade union members, discontinuing the practice of prosecuting trade union members and removing legislative and practical barriers to the activities of independent and autonomous employers' organizations.

  • Legislation granting the right to receive cash benefits during maternity leave for self-employed individuals.

  • Adopting labour legislation to address sexual harassment in the workplace.

  • Encouragement of Kazakhstani companies to develop, adopt, and implement distinct human rights policies.