The Constitution of Kenya, 2010, has laid the normative framework for corporate respect for human rights in Kenya. It has explicitly stated the responsibilities of business with respect to human rights. Art. 20 provides that the Bill of Rights binds all state organs and all persons. Further, Article 260 of the Constitution defines a ‘person’ to include a: “company, association or other body of persons whether incorporated or unincorporated.” Hence, the Constitution envisages a role for business enterprises with regard to human rights, a departure from the traditional view that only States have obligations in respect to human rights.
This is also in tandem with Kenya’s obligations under the regional and international human rights instruments that it is a state party that oblige States to have adequate legal and institutional frameworks to respect, protect and fulfil human rights. For example: the Convention on the Rights of a Child and the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women.
In line with International human rights obligations, Kenya was reviewed under the UN Human Rights Council Universal Periodic Review second cycle process in January 2015. The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) reviews the human rights records of all 192 UN Member States once every four years, providing an opportunity for States to demonstrate what actions they have taken to improve the human rights situation in their countries. It is one of the key elements of the Council, which reminds States of their responsibility to fully respect all human rights and fundamental freedoms and aims at improving the human rights situation in all countries, identifying human rights violations wherever they occur, and supporting States to rectify them.
During Kenya’s review, a number of states, in keeping with United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) call on all Member States to develop National Action Plans (NAPs) to promote the implementation of the UNGPs within their respective national contexts, made recommendations to Kenya on the same. Kenya, being a member of the Human Rights Council and in line with Kenya’s human rights obligations accepted the recommendations to develop a National Action Plan for Business and Human Rights.