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20 Dez 2016

German Institute for Human Rights

Press release: Cabinet adoption of the National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights - A hesitant integration of business and human rights

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Berlin – After the adoption this morning by the Federal Cabinet of the National Action Plan for Business and Human Rights, Michael Windfuhr, Deputy Director of the German Institute for Human Rights (DIMR), made the following statement:

“The National Action Plan adopted by the government this morning is far removed from the ambitious action plan promised at the G7 Summit last year at Schloss Elmau. It does, however, contain some first steps and some agreement about the further integration of human rights into business practices, and so points generally in the right direction. We’re glad to see clear articulation of the government’s expectation that all businesses integrate ongoing human rights due diligence into their operations. It is also a positive step that the government wants to identify key risk sectors and particularly push the implementation of the UN Guiding Principles in these areas. Previous National Action Plans from other countries have not been this explicit in the formulation of their governments’ expectations. 

Far less convincing are the government’s own measures for the implementation of the UN Guiding Principles. There is no commitment to better enforcement of existing laws in problem sectors, nor to combatting identified problems or protecting particularly vulnerable groups. The National Action Plan should have committed companies with issues in these areas to comprehensive impact assessments and reporting measures. Furthermore, the NAP contains no provisions on strengthening the position of human rights in public procurement, nor does it envision any stricter measures for companies owned by the German state. This gap does not to justice to the particular responsibility of the German state for the international economic activity of the companies in its ownership.

It is distressing that there will be no improvements to access to German courts for the victims of human rights abuses abroad seeking remedy in Germany. It is now critical that an effective process for the implementation of this National Action Plan is quickly begun.