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12 Feb 2021

Initiative Lieferkettengesetz

Civil society statement on the German Government's compromise proposal for a due diligence law

Note: This is a summary translation of the original German press release.

On the German Government’s announcement of a compromise proposal for a mandatory due diligence law, the civil society coalition “Initiative Lieferkettengesetz” said:

"Today's compromise is an important and long overdue step in the right direction: 'Made in Germany' must no longer stand for child labour or factory collapses in the supply chains of German companies... This is also a success for all the civil society organisations, academics, companies and hundreds of thousands of citizens who have been calling for such a law for years.

However, it is clear that a more effective law would have been possible... [T]he law initially applies to very few companies. The lack of civil liability denies victims of serious human rights abuses improved legal protection before German courts. And the law also only marginally takes into account the obligation to comply with environmental standards – there is an urgent need for improvement here.

It is therefore all the more important that in future an authority will check whether companies are complying with their due diligence obligations. If a company violates its obligations, the authority can impose fines and exclude the company from public contracts. This is a big step forward from the previous voluntary approaches.

We now call on members of the Bundestag [MPs] to ensure that companies' due diligence obligations comply with the UN Guiding Principles. A supply chain law must also cover environmental standards and include a civil liability provision to strengthen the claims of those affected for remedy."

See also statements e.g. by ECCHR and (in German) Misereor.