Background information How Germany is promoting fair supply chains
We are working for the systematic implementation of Germany's National Action Plan for Business and Human Rights, including in public procurement. “If an effective and comprehensive review of the NAP in 2020 finds that companies’ voluntary commitment is insufficient, we will introduce appropriate legislation at the national level and advocate EU-wide regulation.
In 2011, the United Nations adopted the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (External link). They are intended to prevent human rights being violated by companies and they define the state’s duty to protect and corporate responsibility to respect human rights throughout gobal supply chains.
Initially, the German government relied on voluntary commitments in order to implement the UN Guiding Principles. In 2016, it adopted the National Action Plan for Business and Human Rights (External link) (NAP) and established a review mechanism. It was found that not enough companies were meeting their human rights due diligence obligations.
In the first company survey in 2019, only 400 of the more than 3,000 companies invited to take part completed the questionnaire. Only 20 per cent of these 400 companies were complying with the NAP requirements. In a second survey in 2020, 450 of the 2,250 companies invited to take part responded to the questionnaire; only 17 per cent of them were shown to be compliant.
The NAP envisages that the Federal Government will consider further action, up to and including legislative measures, if less than 50 per cent of companies are compliant with human rights due diligence obligations. In their coalition agreement the governing parties CDU, CSU and SPD agreed that legislative provisions would be put in place if companies’ voluntary commitments proved insufficient. This legislation was passed in June 2021.
With the supply chain law, the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and the coalition agreement are now being implemented by the German government.
Our goal Fair and sustainable supply chains in Europe and worldwide
The goal being pursued by the German government continues to be a uniform European set of rules. It is seeking to influence EU legislation with its national law – also in the interests of German businesses.