Towards Mandatory Human Rights Due Diligence

Under the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights companies have a responsibility to undertake human rights due diligence. However, 40% of the biggest companies in the world evaluated by the Corporate Human Rights Benchmark in 2018 failed to show any evidence of identifying or mitigating human rights issues in their supply chains.

Until recently, legal developments have put an emphasis on promoting transparency, but there is growing momentum worldwide to require companies to undertake human rights due diligence. France was the first country to adopt such a requirement under its Duty of Vigilance law, followed by the Netherlands with due diligence focused on child labour, and now various other governments are considering legislative proposals including Austria, Switzerland, and Luxembourg.

Civil society across the world is seizing the opportunity for more robust requirements on companies. Many companies and investors have also begun speaking out in favour of such legislation.

In this blog series, experts from civil society, governments and business discuss this opportunity and what it could mean for advancing human rights in business.

See our Mandatory Human Rights Due Diligence portal for more information.



Exploring trends in corporate human rights due diligence

Following a series of events organised in Oxford in early 2020, Ekaterina Aristova reflects on trends towards human rights and environmental due diligence in a three-part blog.

Dr Ekaterina Aristova, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Bonavero Institue of Human Rights



Photo by CIAT - 2DU Kenya 86, CC BY-SA 2.0

Ensuring human rights due diligence legislation works for small farmers and workers

Sergi Corbalán from the Fair Trade Advocacy Office discusses new research on how due diligence frameworks can address purchasing practices, living wages and incomes for small farmers and workers.

Sergi Corbalán, Executive Director, Fair Trade Advocacy Office (FTAO)



Something for Europeans to celebrate – a new social contract begins to emerge?

BHRRC's Phil Bloomer and ITUC's Sharan Burrow discuss the EU Commission's plans for mandatory due diligence in a piece for Open Democracy.

Phil Bloomer (BHRRC) and Sharon Burrow (ITUC)




Nan Palmero, flickr CC BY 2.0

Mexico can be a world leader in improving business conduct on human rights and the environment

Ahead of a landmark event in Mexico, Soledad García Muñoz and Phil Bloomer discuss the global movement for human rights due diligence.

Soledad García Muñoz, Special Rapporteur of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, and Phil Bloomer (BHRRC) 



Image by Marcel Langthim from Pixabay

EU study and legal opinion of German campaign underline need for legislation on human rights due diligence

Claudia Saller, Julia Otten and Johanna Kusch on why the German government should give the mandatory due diligence agenda a real push, both at home and in Brussels.

Claudia Saller (ECCJ), Julia Otten (Germanwatch/ CorA-Network) and Johanna Kusch (Initiative Lieferkettengesetz) 



Landmark report on 1,000 European companies shows the need for human rights due diligence laws

Filip Gregor and Joanne Houston from Frank Bold on why reporting requirements alone won't eradicate abuse and the implications for the mandatory due diligence debate.

Filip Gregor and Joanne Houston, Frank Bold 




photo credit: Rock Cohen licensed under CC-BY-2.0

Where is the European Commission going on due diligence and access to remedy in 2020?

ECCJ's Chris Patz and Claudia Saller look back on what three (now) EU Commissioners had to say on mandatory due diligence and remedy.

Chris Patz & Claudia Saller, European Coalition for Corporate Justice (ECCJ) 



photo credit: EU Reporter

2019 was the year #HumanRights due diligence came of age

BHRRC's Phil Bloomer and Dr Bärbel Kofler, German Federal Human Rights Commissioner, on why the EU's leadership on mandatory due diligence is needed in 2020.

Phil Bloomer of BHRRC and Dr Bärbel Kofler, German Federal Human Rights Commissioner


Why Ursula von der Leyen's 'agenda for Europe' must put human rights at the core of business

Phil Bloomer of BHRRC and Claudia Saller of ECCJ make the case for mandatory human rights due diligence across Europe.

Phil Bloomer of BHRRC and Claudia Saller of European Coalition for Corporate Justice


Is it time for African countries to introduce mandatory due diligence on human rights?

The failures of self-regulation suggest mandatory legislation is needed to prevent corporate human rights harms in Africa.

Joseph Kibugu is Eastern Africa Senior Researcher, BHRRC


What lessons does France's Duty of Vigilance law have for other national initiatives?

Two years in, the landmark French law has much to teach us on mandatory human rights due diligence, argues Sherpa.

Sandra Cossart, Director & Lucie Chatelain, Advocacy Officer, Sherpa


Due diligence laws must not leave women behind

If women’s rights and needs are not taken into account in the development of due diligence laws, it may take years to correct.

Kelly Groen, Policy and Campaigns Officer, ActionAid Netherlands & Lis Cunha, EU Policy Officer on Corporate Accountability and Tax Justice, ActionAid International


Duty-bound to protect

Human rights are not negotiable. German and European companies must protect them throughout the world.

Dr Bärbel Kofler, Member of German Parliament & Federal Human Rights Commissioner


What does Switzerland's vote on mandatory due diligence mean - and what happens next?

Urs Rybi of Public Eye provides some context on last week's Swiss National Council vote on mandatory due diligence on human rights and the environment.  

Urs Rybi, Policy Analyst, Commodity Trading & Corporate Accountability, Public Eye



Europe takes a big step towards companies having a ‘duty of care’ on human rights

Finland commits to introduce mandatory human rights due diligence, and takes the drive for such legislation to the European Union. 

Phil Bloomer, Executive Director, BHRRC



Mandatory Human Rights Due Diligence: A business perspective

In short, it is not a question of if, but when such laws will be in place and how they will impact current business operations and practices.

William Anderson, Inhouse Counsel (Human Rights), adidas



Responsible Business Conduct - the European Business model of the 2020s

The EU especially has an urgent need to show leadership and put in place mandatory human rights due diligence on companies, which obliges them to analyse, effectively mitigate, report on and account for their actions.

Heidi Hautala, Member of European Parliament & Vice-President of the European Parliament



Going Dutch: Four things you should know about the Netherlands' new law to eliminate child labour

Perhaps the greatest contribution of the law is symbolic in nature. It represents a breaching of the "legislation barrier", an important threshold facing many countries in the area of corporate accountability.

Joseph Wilde-Ramsing, Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations (SOMO) and OECD Watch, and Manon Wolfkamp, MVO Platform




Towards mandatory human rights due diligence in the UK: Developments and opportunities

Civil society and supportive allies in business must now seize the opportunity to make the case for a mandatory requirement for companies to take action to prevent human rights and environmental abuses.

Marilyn Croser, CORE Coalition



Could Finnish presidency fix labour-chain abuse?

Stronger and more harmonised human rights due diligence requirements would go a long way in providing investors and civil society with better information to assess whether companies are doing enough

Sharan Burrow, ITUC, and Phil Bloomer, Business & Human Rights Resource Centre (in EU Observer)



Will Germany become a leader in the drive for corporate due diligence on human rights?

While it is important to recognise that the proposal has not been widely endorsed, the draft is of political significance within and beyond Germany.

Saskia Wilks and Johannes Blankenbach, Business & Human Rights Resource Centre



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