In 2016, the German Federal Government adopted the National Action Plan (NAP) for Economic and Human Rights. The main objective of the NAP includes, among other things, “that at least 50% of all German-based companies with over 500 employees will have integrated into their business processes elements of human rights due diligence by 2020 (…)“ (NAP, p. 10). These include the adoption of a declaration of principles to respect human rights, the initiation of a procedure for the determination of adverse effects on human rights as well as taking measures to prevent potentially negative effects and the review of the effectiveness of these measures. In addition, a reporting and a complaints procedure are to be implemented. A supply chain management is particularly relevant as a result of these requirements.
As from 2018 onwards, annual random samples are to monitor the implementation of the above objective. In the case of a lack of implementation, the Federal German Government may take further steps right up to taking legal action. Although the NAP currently only applies to large enterprises, in the medium term requirements could also apply to SMEs. This means that here also, measures to ensure compliance with human rights due diligence may be required.
The NAP-help desk of the German Agency for Business and Economic Development (AWE) deals with the main issues concerning implementation of the above obligation. For more information, click here. In addition, the following are planned or are available to support companies:
- Central Information Portal: www.csr-in-germany.de
- ILO-Help desk
- Business & Human Rights Resource Centre
- Consultation and training as provided by the German Global Compact Network
- Nationwide hands-on days for SMEs
A guideline of the network UBJ on Human Rights and their implementation in SMEs can be found here.