Now more than ever: The EU needs a strong supply chain law

Europe – Supply chains – Human rights and environment

First France, then the Netherlands and Germany – more and more European countries are introducing supply chain laws because they have come to recognize that oil spills, theft of natural resources and forced labor do not arise from nowhere. They are the result of the ruthless practices of companies along their global value chains.   

Yet, a patchwork made up of specific national laws is not enough to effectively protect human rights and the environment on a global scale. On the one hand, these laws often do not go far enough. On the other, they create unequal conditions between states – and in some cases cause companies to relocate to countries that lack human rights protections. But now, the EU has the chance to pass a robust law.  


With the Justice is Everybody’s Business campaign, ECCHR steps up its advocacy for a legal framework at the EU level that adequately protects human rights, along with the environment and the climate, and empowers those affected when companies violate their rights.  

We are calling for:  

  • all companies to be obligated to respect human rights, the climate and the environment
  • risks to be actively combated and prevented 
  • avenues to hold companies liable under civil law and to take action against them when necessary  
  • the strengthening of trade unions and other entities supporting the interests of workers 
  • mandatory, binding guidelines on environmental and climate protection, such as limits on the emission of greenhouse gases 


In today’s globalized world, the operations of supply chains – from the extraction of raw materials to processing, marketing and delivery, as well as the final destinations of products – are obscured, often concealing who is responsible for violations and damages. When damage to people and the environment occurs, both buyer and supplier tend to point the finger at one another. As a result, no one is held liable, and the destruction of the environment and human life continues to go unpunished. 

More and more people have become aware of this deplorable state of affairs and are calling for the appropriate laws to be enacted. But some companies are lobbying against stronger regulations – thus ensuring that laws are weakened or not passed at all. To counteract this, we need joint international action. 


Logo of the Justice is Everybody’s Business campaign © JEB
Logo of the Justice is Everybody’s Business campaign © JEB

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glossary (2)


UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights

The UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, also known as the Ruggie Principles, are among the most important internationally recognized standards on corporate responsibility for human rights.

In 31 principles they set out states’ duty to protect human rights, corporate responsibility to protect human rights, and access to remedy when violations occur. The unanimous endorsement of the principles by the UN Human Rights Council in 2011 represented an important step forward towards corporate liability for human rights.

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Resource exploitation

Mining, timber felling, wind farms and hydro-electric dams – resource exploitation can result in contaminated water, heavy metals in the blood of local residents, forced displacement, land grabbing and the violent suppression of peaceful protests. Economic activities in the Global South far too often disregard the plight of people and the environment.

Heads of the large multinational companies that are responsible for such harm say their liability is limited. State and private investors who finance these projects argue that they have limited influence over what happens on the ground. And also political decision makers often evade their responsibility to defend the rights of affected people against corporate interests.

ECCHR seeks to challenge this. Looking at resource exploitation, we see that the responsibility for endangering human rights and the environment lies with those who profit most from these industries in the global economy. We work with those affected by such human rights violations to enforce their rights.


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