According to media reports, the German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) is currently working on an unpublished draft law which will make human rights due diligence a legal requirement.
With the initiative, the federal government responds to criticism coming from human rights organisations and from experts of the UN-welfare committee. They claim the German governments approach to be “insufficient”. The criticism refers to the National Action Plan for Economy and Human Rights, published in September 2017. The plan is based on the United Nations Guiding principles on Business and Human Rights (2011). To guarantee the implementation of the guiding principles, the EU Commission had requested every member state to develop a National Action Plan.
The German National Action Plan expects organisations to comply with the following:
- Policy statement on respect for human rights
- Procedure to determine actual or potential adverse impacts on human rights
- Measures to fight potentially negative impacts and review of their effectiveness
- Complaints mechanism
The plan, however, did not contain sanctions for those organizations who fail to comply and is therefore in many ways non-binding.
The last 20 years have shown that voluntary approaches alone cannot solve the problems. If the Ministry gets its way, the requirements of the action plan will become legally enforceable requirements. Not only would the general public support such a move, it might also be endorsed by companies who are looking for a level playing field: when human rights due diligence becomes a legal requirement, companies who currently disregard human rights violations in their supply chain will no longer get away with it – or at least that would be the aim.
Legislative proposals like this confirm once more that social responsibility is not a fad or a matter of reputation, but a challenge to the way businesses are organized.
How DQS can support you to comply with human rights in the supply chain:
- Risk analysis validation to determine the impact on human rights
- Conception and execution of social audits
- Training for the implementation of social standards (SMETA, ETI, …)
- Report Verification (GRI, AA1000,…)
You want to prepare your company for the future? Then contact us!