German human rights due diligence law on the way

A compromise, but an important step for human rights

12.02.2021

Statement by Miriam Saage-Maaß, vice legal director and head of the Business and Human Rights program at the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights, on today’s announced agreement on a German mandatory human rights due diligence law (Lieferkettengesetz):

“With this compromise, the German government is finally taking a step, which is long overdue, to protect human rights in global supply chains. But the announced due diligence law must be improved.

We are skeptical about the fact that the law initially only applies to large companies with 3000, later 1000, employees. Small and medium-sized companies, especially those in high-risk sectors such as the textile industry, urgently need to be required to protect human rights. In addition, the law’s strongest language only applies to direct suppliers. Indirect suppliers are included only with weaker measures. The rights of people at the very end of supply chains must also be respected and violations punished. We remain hopeful that the announced obligation for companies to prevent human rights violations will be enforced irrespective of where they occur in supply chains, and that complaint mechanisms for those affected will be strengthened.

We welcome the announced strengthening of the role of NGOs and trade unions in Germany, which will enable them and us to better support those affected in their fight for human rights. Nevertheless, we continue to call for additional civil liability to be anchored in the German supply chain law. Only with it can the law truly benefit those who need it most – workers in the Global South. As a civil society organization, we will continue to do our part to support the implementation of a strong and effective mandatory human rights due diligence law and enforce the rights of those affected.”

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