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11 Nov 2020

Towards EU Mandatory Due Diligence Legislation: Perspectives from Business, Public Sector, Academia and Civil Society

The COVID-19 crisis has exposed once more the vulnerabilities in value chains and precarity of global business operations – and the weakness of voluntary corporate action in addressing these issues. The devastating consequences are felt by millions of workers and communities around the world. However, there are signs this could change.

There has been growing momentum worldwide among governments, businesses, investors and civil society, for mandatory human rights and environmental due diligence (HREDD). Cross-sectoral regulation is already in place or under discussion in a number of European countries, including France, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Finland, Sweden and Germany, paving the way towards regional harmonisation.

In 2020, the EU Commission committed to introducing such legislation at EU level, and has just launched a public online consultation on ‘sustainable corporate governance’, including mandatory HREDD.

To coincide with the German presidency of the EU Council, we have produced a compendium of reflections on these developments, supported by and in cooperation with the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), and Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH. We approached diverse voices from academia, public sector, civil society and business, from the global South and North to contribute and explore what meaningful EU mandatory due diligence and corporate accountability legislation should look like.

The compendium was presented at the Virtual Forum: Towards a Common Approach to Sustainable Supply Chains and Due Diligence" , organised by BMZ as part of the German Presidency of the Council of the European Union.

Download the Full Collection (PDF)

Read all twenty contributions - from apparel brands, to government ministries and local organisations - plus a foreword by Dr Gerd Müller, the German Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development.

Key Themes

Five key themes and messages emerge from the contributions we have collated. Find out more about these themes and what they mean for the development of the legislation in our introductory blog post.


Voluntary Implementation is Insufficient. Mandatory HREDD will be critical to creating a level playing field and ensuring that consistent effective measures are taken.


Stake- and Rightsholder Involvement: Meaningful participation from all quarters at all stages, including safeguards for defenders, is imperative.


Beyond Tick-box: HREDD under an effective legal framework must be context-sensitive, go beyond social auditing and not degrade into a standard list of ‘do’s’ and ‘do not’s’ shielding from any liability if followed.


Importance of Liability and Access to Remedy: Without liability provisions there will be no real level-playing field as requirements can too easily be evaded.


HREDD in Context: EU regulation should be viewed in context of other policies for its ability to stimulate global business and human rights efforts.

Further Reading

Perspectives on EU Mandatory Due Diligence Legislation: A Resource Centre Introduction

Can growing momentum towards mandatory human rights and environmental due diligence (HREDD) give hope for a more equitable future?

Mandatory Due Diligence Big Issue

Learn more about the global push for mandatory human rights due diligence in our updated Big Issue portal.

Ongoing mHRDD Blog Series

More than thirty articles from experts in civil society, government and business discussing the opportunity presented by mHRDD and what it could mean for advancing human rights in business.